May
29
2008

It’s kind of muddy: How much damage can a property owner do to his own land?

Here's mud on your truck: Here's a sample of mudder truck action. These photos are not from the May 3 event near Isanti, Minnesota, which has generated controversy about how much damage a private property owner can do to his own land.
Here's mud on your truck: Here's a sample of mudder truck action. These photos are not from the May 3 event near Isanti, Minnesota, which has generated controversy about how much damage a private property owner can do to his own land.Courtesy katiew
When does a mud hole turn into a wetland?

That’s a question that’s heated up debate in the north metro area as a rural Isanti man now faces wetland damage charges after hosting a mudder truck event on his property earlier this month.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources cited the guy under a little-used law for wetland damage. If convicted in court, he could be forced to restore the mud hole/wetland to its former condition, pay a big fine and/or serve jail time.

Chad Hunt, the property owner, contends he can do anything he’d like on his own property and that the area where the trucks were rumbling around on was just a mud hole. About a dozen modified trucks took part in the event on May 3, and also drew a large crowd of spectators.

The DNR took aerial photos of the site after the event (included in the news story link above) that show a large amount of truck ruts and damage.

So what do you think? How far do individual property rights extend when it comes to actions that could have negative environmental consequences? Where does a mud hole end and a wetland begin? What rights does a property owner forfeit when it comes to activities that take place on his property? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzzers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Get real, this is this guy own land. Next they'll say he needs to buy carbon credits to hold a party of this sort. This country has run a mucl with politiacal correctness. People get a life....

posted on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 4:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

tell the dnr to grow up . This ain't Russia!!! It's his land he can do with it as he pleases, and I doubt so much as a squirrel was damaged do to trucks going through a mud hole. This makes me want to vommit!!!!

posted on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 8:10am
bryan kennedy's picture

Well, he actually can't do whatever he wants with that land. Let's say he wanted to build a large industrial concrete plant there. Well, he'd need to get the right permits and make sure it followed regulations and zoning codes for the use of land.

I think the DNR is specifically charged with looking into issues like this.

Now, I don't know if I totally agree with the DNR action here. I'm not familiar with all the facts. It does seem a bit specific to go after this one land owner.

However, if this land was serving as a natural wetland and the law states that he can't destroy that, then I guess he's guilty as charged. I just wonder if this same set of rules would apply if he wanted to build a big house an golf course or something. It seems like there are lots of grey areas to consider.

posted on Sun, 03/15/2009 - 11:42pm
tod needham's picture
tod needham says:

With all the true industrial polluters out there the DNR has time or the resource (tax money) that 's not strech enogh to go after tax paying, fun loving, law abiding citezens for having fun. Let me know what fund drive you need to help raise cash for the corporate attorneys needed to keep our citizens safe from this type of persecution. And they wonder why there is an atrtitude towards the DNR.

posted on Sun, 03/15/2009 - 9:42pm

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