Yeah, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, What'd a Tree Near a Levee Ever Do To You?

One week ago today, city officials were cautioning the council not to worry -- Dallas ain't about to spend $3 million to reduce 2,800 trees along the Trinity River to firewood just because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says so. But this isn't just a Dallas issue: Friend of the show Bethany Anderson directs our attention this morning to this Associated Press nationwide survey of levee projects that counts a grand total of 100,000 trees to get the chainsaw adios per Corps orders to "chop down every tree in the country that grows within 15 feet of a levee." Some have already been given the ax; no one knows how many for sure.

The Corps has been saying for the last two years that trees near the levees weakens them: Eric Halpin, the Corps' Special Assistant for Dam and Levee Safety U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says the agency has "this body of decades of experience that says you shouldn't have trees on your levees." To which a former Corps employee -- George Sills, ex of the Corps' Engineer Research and Development Center in Mississippi -- says, Hogwash. As in: "If trees are a problem, why aren't we having problems with them? There's never been a documented problem with a tree."

Incidentally, for those interested in the subject (cough, Schutze, cough), on May 19 the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment held a hearing titled "Recommendation of the National Committee on Levee Safety," at which Halpin testified. No Dallas reps were present, but there was one from Houston.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky