FWS, and DOI Office of the Solicitor, Collaborative Landfill Remediation

Civil actions filed by the Department of the Interior to recover cleanup costs rarely prompt requests from the responsible parties for a public ceremony celebrating the settlement. An exception occurred on May 18, 2004, at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Morris County, New Jersey. Part of the Refuge was once a local landfill and is now thriving wetlands. At the request of the responsible party -- Harding Township -- the Refuge hosted a "deed transfer ceremony" celebrating the settlement of Interior's civil suit seeking reimbursement of cleanup costs through the unique transfer of a 64-acre parcel of undeveloped land from Harding Township to DOI for management as part of the Refuge.

From left to right: John Seymour, Steven Griles, Bill Koch, Matt Hogan
From left to right: John Seymour, Steven Griles, Bill Koch, Matt Hogan

The settlement represented the culmination of years of work on the part of the Refuge, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the DOI Office of the Solicitor, in collaboration with the local government, a conservation organization, and the Department of Justice to (1) address environmental risks at the Refuge through the design and construction of a protective, cost-effective remedy, and (2) craft a settlement under which the parties were able to protect undeveloped land from an imminent threat of residential development, preserve important uplands and wetlands habitat, and preserve and strengthen the longstanding bonds between the Refuge and the Township in which it is located.

Project Point of Contact

Bill Koch, Refuge Manager
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Basking Ridge, NJ
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Phone: 973-425-1222,
Email: Bill_Koch@fws.gov

John Seymour, Attorney
Department of the Interior Office of the Solicitor
Phone: 202-219-3383,
Fax: 202-219-1792