Green business, green careers and job training
Solutions that build smart communities with green careers and sustainable businesses!

Save on Career Education through Lorman Education

Our readers are offered a discount on Lorman seminars and courses. Check out their business, management and legal offers at this link to qualify for our discounts. They also offer green business training opportunities. Please visit for a complete listing of courses. Register online or call Lorman at 866-352-9539.
Home > Natural Resources > Water Strategies to Preserve Natural Resource Supplies and Quality

California Levees Face Massive Corps of Engineers Tree Removal

Tree removal along 1600 miles of California levees faces complex flood, wildlife and water conservation challenges.

Find green business solutions
The Corp of Engineers is at it again...still. Having dealt with Corps design and maintenance strategies several times, the California levee strategy causes me grave concern. My experience with Corps water management strategies span the country: in Tulsa, OK when we faced federal disaster scale flooding because of Corps policies...following the New Orleans flooding due to Corps management of the levees, and living close to the concrete lined streams and rivers of Los Angeles that were constructed by the Corps -- the following proposal about removing all trees and shrubs from 1600 miles of levees in California warrants your attention. A national directive by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could devastate scenery and wildlife habitat in California by forcing Central Valley flood control officials to chop down virtually all trees and shrubs on their levees.

A compromise is being negotiated, but unless the policy changes, tree-lined banks on 1,600 miles of levees in the Valley could be transformed into barren culverts within a year.

The conflict highlights a difficult dance by federal and state officials who must weigh the need for no-frills flood control and California's tradition of also using levees for environmental protection and visual esthetics.

At issue is a national Corps of Engineers policy now being applied in California. It requires levees to be cleared of all vegetation to preserve channel capacity and allow access for inspection and repair. The policy is largely based on conditions on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, where ample wildlife habitat exists between levees and the water's edge.

But in California, levees were built close together after the Gold Rush to create high water velocities to flush mining debris out of rivers. In most areas, there is little space between levees and the water, and vegetation on levees provides the only riverside habitat.

The issue first came to light in February 2007 when the corps released a national list of levees that failed maintenance standards. That review was ordered by Congress after deadly levee failures in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

A revised list released Monday shows that 32 levee districts in California failed maintenance standards.

The corps' maintenance manual for the Sacramento River flood control system actually encourages planting vegetation on levees.

"We have coordinated with environmental agencies for a number of years now to incorporate vegetation in our flood control systems to provide shade and habitat for endangered species here in California," said Jim Sandner, operations and readiness chief at the Sacramento Corps of Engineers district.

Dana Cruikshank, a spokesman at the agency's headquarters in Washington, said an exemption is not in the works for California. But the corps is drafting a new national standard to allow some vegetation on levees. That standard should be finished by year-end.

The corps' regional commander, Brig. Gen. John McMahon, said Friday that removing trees won't necessarily make levees safer, because rotting roots left behind could provide a path for seepage that could compromise the levee.

McMahon hopes to tailor the forthcoming standard to California's needs. The goal, for instance, would be to remove trees where levee-strengthening is needed, but also to allow some vegetation where strength is not a concern.

"There's no doubt in my mind our headquarters would like one standard applied broadly across the full spectrum of levees," said McMahon. "I personally don't think that's the right tack to take in this situation. Not all vegetation on levees is bad."

Until the new standard is released, local corps officials are telling levee districts not to cut trees.

But time is running out: Local levee districts have three months to develop a plan to satisfy the corps, then nine months to carry it out.

If they fail to comply, districts will be ineligible for federal assistance to repair levees after a flood. Because most districts can't afford repairs on their own, the burden could fall on state and local taxpayers.

To make matters worse, local districts are squeezed by other rules that protect vegetation, said Mike Hardesty, president of the Central Valley Flood Control Association. If they remove all trees and shrubs, as the corps headquarters wants, they could face penalties from other state and federal agencies for destroying habitat.

The state Department of Water Resources next week will launch a routine spring inspection of Central Valley levees. It has increased its inspection staff from six to nine people to measure the habitat that would be lost if the current national policy is ultimately enforced.

Jeremy Arrich, chief of Water Resources' flood project integrity and inspection branch, said the goal is to persuade the Corps of Engineers to consider natural resources in its maintenance policies. Without that consideration, he said, many of Sacramento's urban levees are likely to fail the national policy when next evaluated by the corps.

SOURCE: Sacramento Bee: Read the complete story at:

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
Green Solution Providers
Green companies directory
your green solutions - business, nonprofit, government program.
It's free.

Share in Social Media

Sign Up For News & Information
Subscribe to our free solutions newsletter
"Ten+ Tips for Greening Your Office"

Read prior issues: California GreenLines

Search For Green Solutions

Custom Search
Green Career Center
Green Job Wizard
Career Certifications Directory

green job training certifications
Green Biz Center
Solutions For Green
Directory of Green Companies

Solutions for Alternative Energy

rose in natural systems
Green Living Center
Solutions for Green: Consumers

Solutions for Remodeling

Backyard Nature Center


"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." Goethe

Related Green Resources

Marcom Tips
Interactive & Video Tips

Career Resources

We encourage lifelong learning to support sustainable communities and provide these select resources to help you pursue green and sustainable self-development:

Lorman Business Training Directory of On-line Business and Compliance Classes

Green Job Wizard Job and Career Certifications Directory

Job & Career Resources

Sales & Marketing
Human Resources

Green Economy

Business Sectors
Natural Resources

Solutions For Green

About Us ~ Privacy Policy
Contact Us ~ Home

Text Link Ads

AD: Place your link here


We help you green your career, workplace and community by connecting you to quality green, sustainable and high performance resources. California Green Solutions focuses attention on effective solutions that sustain our natural systems. You can support our editorial work by supporting our advertisers and spreading the word about best practices and green solutions.
California Green Solutions is a publication of Carolyn Allen ~ Copyright ©2006-2030 Carolyn Allen

B2B | Job Certifications | Alternative Energy | Events | Green Directory | LED Lights | Remodeling |
CONSUMERS | Backyard Nature | Senior Health | MultiMedia Marketing | Marketing | Networking Events | Japan |