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FOR Logo Friends of the River
 The voice of California's rivers

Help Save California's Trees from the War on Nature

NEWS FLASH: April 27, 2012Big 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.


Moke pano of trees

FOR Sues US Army over War on Nature

On 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?

The 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.

The 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.

American River Levee 1What is a levee?

Think 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.
  • American River LeveeIt’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.

CWHC Advisory CouncilWhat 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.

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