W.Va. DEP Investigating Heritage Trail Mudslide

After receiving two complaints, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is investigating the cause of a mudslide that continues to cover Heritage Trail.

Kathy Cosco, DEP spokeswoman, said inspectors believe the mudslide is originating on Bethlehem resident Dick Dlesk’s property on a hill above the trail. In addition to being concerned about the mud sliding into a nearby creek, the DEP claims Dlesk never sought a permit to disturb the more than one acre of land on his property.

Dlesk could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

”If you disturb more than one acre of land, you must apply for and be granted a permit,” Cosco said, noting in Dlesk’s case he needs a stormwater-associated construction permit. ”Mr. Dlesk did not have a permit for this activity.”

Cosco said Dlesk has submitted some related paperwork since receiving the order in late January. In this paperwork, she said, Dlesk disputes the problem is originating from his property.

”Our main goal here is to get the slip cleaned up and protect the stream … ,” Cosco said. “At the very least, Mr. Dlesk needs a permit because of the acre that has been disturbed.”

Wheeling Public Works Director Russell Jebbia said previously the mudslide had been plaguing the trail for the past five years. However, over the past few months, the slip has started running into the creek, too. Workers periodically clean off the mud to allow people to use the trail, but sometimes the section simply has to be closed.

According to the DEP, Dlesk has been ordered to immediately install and maintain sediment erosion control devices to prevent the release of sediment into the stream. He also has 30 days to appeal the order. Cosco noted the DEP is always concerned when creeks and streams are disturbed in such a manner, as it can damage aquatic life.