By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Property owners who converted wetlands to a horse pasture without a state permit must restore the site and pay a $10,000 civil fine, the Court of Appeals has ruled. The three-judge appeals panel unanimously upheld a trial judge’s order that Hernan and Bethany Gomez remove 1.2 acres of fill material they illegally placed in a wetland on their 54-acre Livingston County parcel between 2005 and 2010. The Gomezes said they did it because they wanted to construct a “working ranch” with horses next to their new house. Wetlands are continuing to disappear in Michigan, according to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The state’s current 6.5 million acres of wetlands is down from 10.7 million acres before European settlement.