The Pentagon is not known for its arboreal expertise. Yet as strange as it might seem, the nation's top brass could soon be determining the fate of many forests that line the rivers of California and other states.
Top officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are expected to soon decide whether to enact a draconian policy of tree cutting along river levees nationwide. The policy is a misdirected reaction to the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, which has exposed the Corps and the federal government to unprecedented liability.
In a letter this week, U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento and 16 other members of California's congressional delegation urged Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, to reconsider this levee vegetation policy, for both economic and environmental reasons.
"The state of California and a number of local governments are in the midst of upgrading hundreds of miles of levees that protect urban cities, rural agricultural areas and the Delta," the member of Congress wrote. "The Army Corps' levee vegetation policy may result in stripping valuable ecosystem habitat from our state, as well as force projects to be redesigned at higher costs to taxpayers."
To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.