(CN) – The federal government must pay the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission more than $5.7 million for flooding its wildlife management area and killing several trees, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled.
The Army Corps of Engineers didn’t stick to its plan to regulate the amount of water released from the Clearwater Dam into the Black River in northeastern Arkansas.
As a result, the river flooded and fatally saturated the root systems of many oak trees on the commission’s 23,000 acres of wildlife management area.
The Corps acknowledged that it had released more water than planned, but claimed that the trees were killed by causes other than flooding.
After an 11-day trial, the claims court found the Corps responsible for an unconstitutional taking of the commission’s property.
“[T]he Commission has met its burden of proving that the Corps’ releases were ‘intermittent, frequent, and inevitably recurring flooding’ that support a taking,” Judge Lettow wrote.
The court ordered the government to pay more than $5.6 million for the dead trees and more than $176,000 for a regeneration program “to address areas severely affected by invasive wetland species.”