On May 9, 2013, Randall Todd Walker, a 50 year-old resident of Des Moines, Iowa, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for cutting and removing 32 black walnut trees from property under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt. U.S. District Judge John A. Jarvey also ordered Walker to serve three years of supervised release following incarceration. Additionally, Judge Jarvey ordered Walker to pay restitution in the amount of $56,225 and to pay a $100 special assessment for the Crime Victims Fund.
"We work very hard with our public partners to preserve and protect the natural resources enjoyed by the more than 17 million visitors who visit the Rock Island District annually. When something like this occurs we have no choice but to do everything within our authority to prevent similar activity. Unfortunately, many of the things we value in nature take decades or centuries to evolve but can be taken away in a matter of only a few careless hours," said Col. Mark Deschenes, commander of the Rock Island District.
Walker had previously pleaded guilty to removing the walnut trees from Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, which is under the control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, as well as from other property under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the following locations: the downtown Riverside area in Des Moines, Iowa; the Sycamore area, in Polk County, Iowa; and the Lake Red Rock area in Marion County, Iowa.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Deputy Assistant Director Edward Grace was pleased at the multiagency and cross-programmatic collaboration on this case.
“This case took a lot of time, effort and excellent investigative work to gather evidence necessary for a criminal conviction, “ said Grace.
The investigation was conducted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, State of Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Bureau, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.
Special thanks to Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge Maintenance Worker Steve DeBruin for first finding the resource damage and also Refuge Zone Officer Carl Lantz for assisting with the investigation.
The Rock Island District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works in partnership with other federal and state agencies to manage and conserve natural resources, consistent with ecosystem management principles, while providing a quality public outdoor recreation experiences. For more information about the Rock Island District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visit http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on the Midwest Region Office of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visithttp://www.fws.gov/midwest/LawEnforcement/.