NEWS FLASH: April 27, 2012: Big
News! The Court denied the Corps of Engineers motion to dismiss our
case against the Corps, challenging the Corps' anti-vegetation rule for
all the Nation's & California's levees. Read the Court's 31 page Order decided in our favor.
The Corps' procedural smokescreen has been blown away, & we will
now get to the merits of the case. The Court also ordered the Corps to
file its answer to our First Amended Complaint within 20 days. In our
effort to stop the Corps in its War against Nature, to paraphrase
Churchill, this is not the end, or even the beginning of the end. But
it is, the end of the beginning. The Corps' skirmish line has been
breached, & we are now prepared to join battle and seek to win on
our upcoming motion for summary judgment against the Corps.
FOR Sues US Army over War on Nature
Monday, June 20, 2011 Friends of the River along with our partners
(Defenders of Wildlife & The Center for Biological Diversity) sued
the US Army in federal court to block implementation of the Corps of
Engineer's policy requiring the clear cutting of trees and shrubs along
1600 miles of California levees. Read FOR's Press Release on the Suit (pdf).
On April 19, 2011 FOR sent a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers
informing them of our intent to sue to stop the needless and destructive
Corps policy aimed at clear cutting vast tracks of California river
bank forests. Read our letter to the Army
What is the War on Nature?
War on Nature is a nationwide tree-elimination policy mandated by the
Army Corps of Engineers. It requires all local and state flood control
districts to remove any woody vegetation - trees, shrubs, etc. - on or
near its river levees or risk losing access to Federal funds in the
event of repairs and/or upgrades needed for the levee.
implementation of this policy would be catastrophic for the fish and
wildlife in our rivers, local economies, public safety, and recreation.
Friends of the River strongly opposes the Corps' edict and is working to
influence policy makers to develop a more sensible policy that takes
into account the important public-safety and environmental benefits that
river-side vegetation provides.
What is a levee?
of river levees as extensions of a river's natural banks. Man-made
levees are built to contain water overflow during big storms and extreme
runoff. Levee walls are made with earthen materials and sometimes
cement and often blend in to the natural landscape of the area.
Why is cutting trees on levee banks a bad idea?
- It's expensive. In
a recent report published by the California Department of Water
Resources, low-end estimates to implement the Corps’ policy statewide
totaled $7.5 billion. These numbers don’t even include the costs of
mitigation for impacts to threatened and endangered species as required
by state and federal laws. Spend billions to rip out trees, some of
which were planted by the Corps themselves? It just doesn’t make sense.
- It’s dangerous.
Aside from the fact that there’s no evidence that the Corps has ever
lost a levee to a tree, there is plenty of scientific data to suggest
that the roots of trees and shrubs actually help stabilize fragile levee
banks and prevent erosion. With bare banks, levees close to a river's
high flow are actually more likely to fail!
- It’s destructive. The
impacts to California wildlife would be catastrophic. Ridding levee
banks from riparian forest would have a triple whammy affect on the
creatures that live there - the impacts would be felt among birds,
terrestrial animals, and riverine species. Riparian forest is so
essential to wildlife diversity; deliberately destroying these precious
natural resources is foolhardy and short-sighted.
What can you do to help?
- Make your voice heard! Friends
of the River knows that the way to stop this edict is through policy
makers, including President Obama. Join us in sending a letter to the
President urging him to reverse this harmful and unnecessary policy. You
can also make your voice heard by sending a letter to Jo Ellen Darcy,
Assistant Secretary of the Army of Civil Works. Click here to write and sign your letter.
- Learn more. Find
out what the media is saying about the Army Corps' destructive policy,
see what Friends of the River's policy advocates are doing to help
influence key policy makers and get all the background details on this
issue when you check back to our War on Nature in the News page.
- Donate. Support
Friends of the River's conservation policy staff in helping to
influence important decision makers. We’ve been working on this issue
for more than a year and have committed considerable time and resources
into research and planning. Your donations will truly help. Thank you.