HAILEY, Idaho – Actor Bruce Willis (search) will pay a $21,000 fine for violating federal wetlands protection laws by clearing a half-acre island in a pond at his central Idaho home.
Willis was cited last October for clearing the small island, installing a sprinkler system, and adding topsoil to level depressions so sod could be laid. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (search) officials claimed he also dumped 10 cubic yards of fill material in a stream to provide access to the island.
The wetlands had been part of a spring-fed tributary of the Big Wood River (search).
"He wanted to be able to use it and that's why he did what he did," said attorney Ned Williamson, who represented Willis. "He was cleaning up this island. He simply did not know it was in wetland jurisdiction."
Williamson said Willis stopped the work as soon as federal officials notified him and began restoration of the island to its former state before the settlement announced this week was negotiated.
Under the settlement, the island will be replanted and its wetlands character restored by Oct. 31. The site will then be monitored for the next decade.
The EPA says wetlands throughout Idaho, especially in the Sun Valley (search) resort area, are disappearing because of burgeoning development and increased recreational use.
"Less than one percent of our state is wetlands," said Jim Werntz, the EPA's Idaho director. "And that one percent provides over 50 percent of Idaho's wildlife habitat.
It was the second time Willis, star of films like the "Die Hard" series and "The Sixth Sense," (search) has run afoul of environmental regulations at the residence he has owned since 1987.
In 1998, the Idaho Department of Water Resources cited him for violating conditions of a stream alteration permit and required him to remove rock jetties and flow control structures installed in the Big Wood River.
The department dropped all charges against Willis in that case after he cooperated with federal officials, Williamson said.