Fairview Aerial Sprayer Pays $240,000 to Settle Trespass and Destruction of Public Property Claims

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A Fairview-based aerial herbicide application company has paid $240,000 to settle allegations of trespass and destruction of United States property at Skiatook and Birch Lakes, in Osage County, announced Clinton J. Johnson, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

According to the settlement agreement, the United States owns thousands of acres of land under and surrounding Birch Lake and Skiatook Lake, which are managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) and provide crucial wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and designated hunting areas for the benefit of the public. Regier Flying Service, LLC (“Regier Flying”) is an FAA-certified aerial herbicide application company.

The United States contends that, in 2014 and 2017, Regier Flying committed trespass when it applied Spike 20P herbicide onto United States land around Skiatook and Birch Lakes without consent. This resulted in the death of thousands of mature trees on approximately 138 acres of United States land, which negatively impacted existing wildlife habitat and public recreational opportunities.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works daily to safeguard wildlife habitat and provide public use opportunities on federal land. The destruction of those lands will not be tolerated,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “This case should serve as a deterrent and a reminder that the United States will take appropriate action, whether civil or criminal, to hold accountable those who violate laws that protect federal land.”

This settlement resolves the pending civil action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma captioned United States of America v. Drummond Ranch, LLC et al., Docket No. 4:19-cv-00077-JED-SH. This case was handled by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Gruber and Anne Thidemann.

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