Op-Ed: Save the Trees on Mill Creek Levees

The following is an Op-Ed submitted by former Professor of Geology Bob Carson.

For the following reasons, the Army Corps of Engineers should either abandon the plan to clear-cut the trees on and near the Mill Creek levees, or file an Environmental Impact Statement.
1. SAFETY: There is no definitive engineering evidence that tree roots weaken levees. Indeed, many engineers believe that tree roots strengthen levees. If the Corps of Engineers removes the trees and the stumps, eventually the roots will rot, potentially leading to piping and levee failure during a flood. Because the trees are not on the stream side of the levee or on top of the levee, none if overturned would damage the integrity of the levee.
2. RECREATION: The levees are the most popular place in the Walla Walla area for walking, running, and biking. Clearcutting the levees will reduce shade, scenery, and wildlife viewing. The Corps states that Mill Creek has more than 143,000 visits per year; the proposed action could hurt tourism.
3. ECOLOGY: The Corps admits that clearcutting trees on and adjacent to levees will adversely affect wildlife, particularly birds and ES-listed fish.
4. ECONOMICS: Considering the multiple adverse effects and the potential reduction of safety, the Corps proposal is a waste of approximately $300,000 of taxpayer money which could be much better spent on improving fish passage at Rooks Park dam; the fish ladder there is the greatest obstacle to anadromous fish between the Pacific Ocean and upper Mill Creek.
5. LEGAL: The proposed action by the Corps may be breaking public law, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, passed by Congress and signed by the president in 2014.

Follow the issue on Facebook: Save the Trees on Milll Creek Levee Coalition.