01 June 2012 Levee Clear-cut Battle in CA Heats Up Posted by: Kelly Catlett | Leave a comment | Share: Endangered Chinook salmon depend on riverside trees for healthy habitat. The California Department of Fish and Game joined the fight to protect trees along levees in California last week, filing a lawsuit to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from carrying out its misguided clear-cut policy. Wildlife officials say that the Army Corps’ one-size-fits-all order doesn’t account for regional differences in how levees were designed and built, and backed up the lawsuit with scientific studies showing how native plant life can actually minimize flood damage. Trees and bushes along levees represent the last remaining five percent of streamside forests left in the Golden State, and it’s vital habitat for endangered species like the Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead trout, valley elderberry longhorn beetle and Swainson’s hawk, to name a few. The Army Corps is aiming to strip some 1,600 miles of levees in California of trees and bushes over the next few years, which will cost taxpayers upward of an estimated $7.5 billion. Our number one concern should be public safety. Unfortunately, the Corps’ current one-size-fits-all national vegetation policy will have a negative impact on public safety, on the environment, and on the cost of our levee projects. — U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui What’s worse is that those vital funds will likely have to be diverted from more pressing projects to fix significant levee problems that present a real threat to public safety. Meanwhile, Congress has also entered the fray. U.S. Representative Doris Matsui of California along with 30 California members introduced the Levee Vegetation Review Act, requiring the Corps to take into account regional levee characteristics and to consult with state and local experts before deciding whether a levee in California should be clear cut. Rep. Matsui said said: “Our number one concern should be public safety. Unfortunately, the Corps’ current one-size-fits-all national vegetation policy will have a negative impact on public safety, on the environment, and on the cost of our levee projects.” The DFG’s lawsuit joins two other lawsuits already challenging the Corps’ clear-cut order. Last year, Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the River became the first to challenge the Corps’ implementation of its policy in California. A similar lawsuit was filed in early 2012 challenging the Corps’ policy in Idaho. Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up Helicopter gunning kills 23 wolves in Idaho; Urge Secretary Jewell to abandon gray wolf delisting proposal — Call your representative by March 14; Washington wildlife agency urged to end support for abolishing federal wolf protections; The latest on Governor Otter’s wolf control board. Two Too Many Development Projects in the Ivanpah Valley While these projects most definitely directly impact a species that has been identified as threatened and is dependent on the habitat where they would be built, Silver State South and Stateline’s approval is most troubling for a bigger reason. You see, this isn’t just an issue for the Ivanpah Valley. Developers and agencies need to be conscious of how and where they plan energy projects all across the country. They need to look at renewable energy planning with a landscape-wide lens, understanding that building in the right places and making an effort to minimize environmental impacts from the start are essential. California’s Rim Fire: Opportunities Rise from the Ashes After California’s devastating Rim Fire, will officials take the opportunity to give nature a chance to fully recover?