"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.
An interim agreement appears likely to shield the state's levee habitat until 2012. But after that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could impose the new rules, which would allow nothing but short grass on most Central Valley levees.
Levee maintenance agencies can seek an exemption – called a variance – but even then, many trees would not be spared.
'The proposed policy will likely have devastating environmental consequences,' Mark Cowin and John McCamman, directors of the state Water Resources and Fish and Game departments, told the corps in a joint letter April 15. 'We urge the Corps to cease implementation of this new policy and procedures.'"