Plan to cut all trees and shrubs on levees headed to court

Sacramento BeeApril 20, 2011 

Controversial federal rules that could require nearly every tree and bush to be chopped down from Central Valley levees are likely headed for a court battle.

On Tuesday, Sacramento-based environmental group Friends of the River and another group, Defenders of Wildlife, notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers they intend to file a lawsuit against the rules.

The 60-day notice is required under the Endangered Species Act. The groups also plan to sue under another statute that requires federal agencies to consult each other to ensure their policies don't harm the environment.

Bob Wright, senior counsel at Friends of the River, said the Corps failed to consult federal wildlife agencies before imposing the rules nationally in 2007. It also failed, he said, to study the environmental consequences, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

The Central Valley today has only about 5 percent of its historic riparian habitat. Most of that, Wright said, is thanks to the trees and shrubs that grow on more than 1,600 miles of levees in the region.

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