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SD farmer put on probation for disturbing six protected wetlands

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A 61-year-old Volga farmer has been put on probation for a year and ordered to pay a $100 fine for disturbing six protected wetlands on his property.

Kevin Jay Mast was sentenced in federal court by U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier in Sioux Falls on Monday, April 9.

Mast was also ordered to restore the protected wetlands on his property by Aug. 1.  He was indicted by a federal grand jury last September and then found guilty by a federal jury on Jan. 18.

In the case, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service purchased an easement for waterfowl management rights in 1973.  The easement prohibited the drainage of any wetland areas on the property. In 2010, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife notified Mast that his plan to install drain tile conflicted with the protected wetlands and was not authorized.  Despite the warning, Mast installed the drain tile in the fall of 2013, said court documents.

“The wetland areas of South Dakota provide crucial habitat for the reproduction of waterfowl, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office strictly enforces protection of these areas. Requiring the defendant to restore the affected wetlands sends an important message, that this type of blatant disregard for the law will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney for South Dakota Ron Parsons.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.