For Immediate Release
Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
Army Corps Kayaker Case Settled
Biologist Who Demonstrated for the L.A. River Paddles off to Law School
WASHINGTON - The case of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers biologist whose activism
has helped shape national policy has drawn to a close. Heather Wylie
had faced a proposed 30-day suspension for kayaking the Los Angeles
River on her own time as part of a public protest demonstration against
Corps policies weakening the Clean Water Act.
Pursuant to a settlement negotiated with attorneys at Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) who represented Ms.
Wylie, the Corps has authorized the release of the following statement:
"Ms. Wylie has reached an agreement with the Army
Corps of Engineers that resolves all outstanding issues between them.
The agreement does not admit any liability or wrongdoing on the part of
either party. Ms. Wylie will end her government service effective
December 8, 2008."
Ms. Wylie is now preparing to go to law school to become an
environmental attorney and may soon find herself of the other side of
the table facing the Corps. She released the following statement:
"I am delighted with this resolution and am looking
forward to the next adventure in my life. I had a great time kayaking
the LA River and we were successful at stopping the Corps from rolling
back Clean Water Act safeguards on the LA and Santa Cruz Rivers
systems. I urge every public servant that knows of betrayal to the
public trust to contact PEER and actively bring attention to these
issues - we must hold our public agencies accountable in order to bring
At the urging of Wylie and others, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency intervened this summer to in effect overturn Army
Corps determinations severely weakening legal protections for both the
L.A. and the Santa Cruz River (in Arizona). At issue is how much
development and diversion can take place on these and other rivers
throughout the arid West.
"The problems that Heather Wylie risked her career to address point
to the need for the new Congress to act expeditiously to strengthen the
Clean Water Act," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, referring
to pending legislation by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and James Oberstar
(D-MN). "During the Obama administration, PEER remains committed to
helping conscientious public servants step forward when needed, as
Heather did, to protect our resources and faithfully execute our laws."
Attorneys Paula Dinerstein and Adam Draper of PEER represented
Heather Wylie in challenging the proposed suspension and negotiating a
resolution of the matter with the Corps.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.