Stories like this really make you wonder how our government was ever competent enough to send a man to the fucking moon.
According to an article in today’s Sacramento Bee, “The federal government is pressing forward with a policy that could require trees to be stripped from California levees, eliminating what shade and wildlife habitat remain along the state’s rivers.”
New guidelines on levee maintenance developed by the Army Corps of Engineers require levees to have nothing other than grass on them. In other words: goodbye foliage.
Right now you might be thinking, “Hey, don’t be a dick! I’m sure these professional engineers have a really good reason for this policy – they’re probably trying to keep you from drowning next time there’s a flood, Mr. Smartass.”
If that’s what you’re thinking: You’re wrong.
And why would you have that kind of faith in the Army Corps of Engineers, anyway? They were supposed to be in charge of the levees in New Orleans, too, and remember how that turned out?
Anyway, the Army does claim that trees along rivers can cause floods if they’re over-turned during storms and rip out chunks of levee, and they’re right about that… in the South. During hurricanes and tropical storms along the Gulf Coast, that’s exactly what happens. But in California – where we don’t get too many hurricanes – flooding is different and the trees actually strengthen the levees by binding the soil together with their roots.
Doesn’t the Army know we’re not part of the South? I mean, this isn’t the Middle East, where it’s pretty easy to get lost and end up fighting a war in Iraq when you were supposed to be in Afghanistan.
I guess cultural homogeneity could be partially to blame. After all, California is now chock full of Cracker Barrels, NASCAR fans (even in Sonoma County where tailgating fans beer bong Pinot Noir) and racist bumper stickers… so it’s not too hard to believe that the Army doesn’t understand the difference between Louisiana and California.
But this is quite a double-whammy, even for the Army. In the short term, they want to destroy what’s left of California’s thriving and biologically diverse river ecosystems. And in the long run, the flooding will be worse because removing the trees will actually weaken the levees. This plan is so evil and stupid that I hope it makes national news, because I would love to see FOX News and Rush Limbaugh figure out ways to defend it. Probably something about how protecting trees is all part of Al Gore’s phony climate change “agenda.”
Fortunately, there is one factor that may prevent the tree massacre from happening: it would cost $7.5 billion. All we need is another economic meltdown and then our government won’t be able to afford to cut down the trees.
Considering Congress’s characteristically inept and even more characteristically corrupt efforts to “reform” Wall Street and pass meaningful legislation to prevent another devastating bubble… well, let’s just say that those trees might not have too much to worry about after all.