California's Department of Fish and Game says it should be able to keep trees on levees. Fish and Game's Jordan Traverso says Army Corps policy mandates levees be free of trees and is an over-reaction to the New Orleans levee breaches caused by Hurricane Katrina.
TRAVERSO: "Not only do we think the vegetation fortifies the levee, and studies have been shown that it does, you know, our public trust responsibility is in maintaining the habitat for the endangered species."
If trees are removed, habitat for the Chinook Salmon, Riparian Brush Rabbit, and Swainson's Hawk could be effected.
Tammy Conforti with the Army Corps says there is already leeway for older levees.
CONFORTI: "For a new levee, yes, we definitely need to meet the standard, but for existing levees, we also recognize, that you know,we have a current situation that we need to try to work with."
Conforti says the Corps will propose a new variance s from the no-vegetation rule this week. The Department of Fish and Game won't file suit until at least early April.