Three Californians with property in a slice of Montana increasingly popular for second homes must restore 1,500 feet of a damaged creek, harm federal officials say included damming the waterway to create a swimming hole. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced a restoration order imposed on Bob and Traci Burleson of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and Wayne Herling of Escondido, Calif., owners of new homes on land near Big Timber, between Bozeman and Billings. Bob Burleson said the order citing violation of the federal Clean Water Act surprised him. "I'm not going to be in violation of anything," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm a pretty evenhanded guy. I go out of my way to do the right thing." A neighbor of Burleson and Herling was delighted by the EPA's order. "I'm just happy they have to go by the law, that somebody noticed that they can't come in from California and do whatever they want here _ mess with the fish, drain our well," Julia LeMaire said. Her husband, Charles, said work that began in 2005 damaged not only the creek but also misappropriated underground water and stripped mature trees from property on which he's lived for about five years. "My biggest concern is whether they're going to shut down that manmade waterfall," Charles LeMaire said. It threatens to decrease water available from his well, he said. The EPA said violations occurred in the spring of 2005 when the Burlesons and Herling constructed two ponds next to West Bridger Creek and established earthen berms that sloughed into the creek. Water for the ponds was diverted from the creek and at times its entire flow was rerouted, the EPA said. Work included removing vegetation along the creek, placing boulders on the bank and dredging to create a dam for the swimming hole, according to the agency. "These activities were done without a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," said Eddie Sierra, EPA's assistant regional administrator in Denver. "We are issuing this order to protect the quality of water in West Bridger Creek." The EPA has given the Burlesons and Herling until early November to submit a plan for stream restoration.