Millions Of California Trees Set To Be Removed

Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Monday, June 20, to stop plans to cut down millions of trees on California’s Central Valley levees, arguing the action would destroy important habitat for endangered wildlife.

The lawsuit was filed in a Sacramento, California, federal court against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the River in Sacramento.

Army Corps Of Engineers Sets Levee Safety Standards

The Army Corps sets national standards for levee safety. In 2007 it unveiled a revised maintenance policy that forbids trees or shrubs on levees. Instead, only short grass is allowed on levees and within 15 feet on either side.

From The Sacramento Bee:

The policy raises significant concerns in California, where levee vegetation composes much of the remaining 5 percent of the Central Valley’s historic riparian forest. As such, it is crucial shade and habitat for migrating endangered fish, as well as nesting habitat for many endangered birds.
“This would be the most massive intentional infliction of environmental damage on our rivers that we’ve seen in modern times,” said Bob Wright, senior counsel at Friends of the River in Sacramento. “It’s mind-boggling.”
The plaintiffs allege the Army Corps policy violates the Endangered Species Act, because the agency did not consult with federal wildlife agencies; and the National Environmental Policy Act, because it didn’t prepare an environmental study. Army Corps spokesman Pete Pierce declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The policy has not yet been carried out in the Central Valley. State and local agencies struck a deal with the Army Corps to delay it until next year while they work out a compromise.

Trees Near Levees A Good Idea?

The Corps has historically supported local policies that allowed trees on levees, but changed its mind after Hurricane Katrina, and decided to impose uniform standards nationwide. Its argument is that trees can blow over in storms, potentially ripping out levee sections. It also says roots provide a path for water to seep through levees.

Or A Bad Idea?

However, a 2007 symposium hosted by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency offered evidence that tree roots may, in fact, strengthen levees by binding soils together.
The California Department of Water Resources opposes the policy and estimates that removing trees on 1,600 miles of levees could cost $7.5 billion—money better spent on strengthening levees.
The idea of chopping down precious habitat and shade for endangered species, as well as removing much of the remaining five percent of the Central Valley’s historic riparian forest, is outrageous.

Take Action!
Please take action today to support this lawsuit and ask the Army Corps of Engineers not to pursue their tree-removal policy.

Photo Credit: jessicafm via Creative Commons


Frances Darcy
Frances Darcy4 years ago

I agree with Arielle B.

Frank Payne
Frank Payne5 years ago

What is wrong with Americans? Not only have they wrecked the world's economy and failed to support or adopt global warming resolutions, but are now hell bent on destroying their own country. What the hell does the army engineering corps know anyway about floods or any other natural occurances. Nothing they have a mind to do will stop Nature's actions to balance what man has upset. The final solution is well on the way, the natural culling of the biggest scourge to walk the earth - humans in in its sights. It will take time but the march is inexorable and the more we tinker with the system, the more severe the repercussions will be. Mankind will be proven to be the worst evolution, of all species, to have existed, one that brought about its own demise through sheer greed, arrogance and then finally realised, abject stupidity. Talk about fiddling whilst Rome burns - we have taken that concept to a whole new level.

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence5 years ago

NO! The Army Corp of Engineers had screwed up so many times ..and the government keeps making excuses for them ...thishas to stop!

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

The Army Corps of Engineers has made so many mistakes in its history (are they an army unto themselves? -- they act that way), that any of their decisions should be researched and investigated by experts. They don't seem to be experts.

Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

Trees and other plants are very important. A world without them and without animals is it that what we want? Hopefully not. In my case, i love trees, plants and animals.
Other animals and plants have to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy everything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." (Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Meta Reid
Meta Reid6 years ago

Why would an agency just spend money with out any consideration of the long term impact? Maybe the Army Corp is trying to insure further work????

Theresa P.
Trisa Rich6 years ago

Why not additionally plant trees such as river birch (if they would survive that environment) whose huge networked root systems would add even more STRENGTH to the levees. IF the corps and local governments would agree to allow the natural environment to return (sans levees) then the HUGE continuing investments in flood control and prevention, flood insurance and rebuilding costs would no longer be necessary. Why do we continue to be so stubborn to think we can, with more and more money, control nature. You can see that abandoned areas ALWAYS return to their natural state....Mother Nature is just waiting for us to WISE UP and learn to WORK WITH the natural, not create the UNnatural and spend all of our time and resources trying to maintain it!

Beverly H.
Beverly Haynes6 years ago

The Army Corps of Engineers has not been successful in our arrea at all...Sacramento should look to their resource conservation district for the intelligence for any land and water related projects

Barbara S.

Where do they think we are... the South??!!! Now, if they would tell us that factions of the government are GeoEngineering the weather, and that they KNOW - for a fact - that in the next 5 years our climate will change, and we will now be the area getting HURRICANES, then there might be some sense to this. But unless something this honest or dire can be proved, they should let the trees alone. The trees are the lungs of our planet. The more trees and other heavy vegetation, the better for the rest of us. What are they thinking? Clearly, they're not thinking at all.

Joanne R.
Jo Roberts6 years ago

Are we going to leave anything for future generations to enjoy ?????