Ouachita River Levee Vegetation Could Be Saved - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Ouachita River Levee Vegetation Could Be Saved

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - The trees lining levee walls along the Ouachita River may live to see another day. Republican senator David Vitter says a bill changing current regulations on levee safety has made it out of committee, and is likely to pass. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations say any tree within 15 feet of the toe of a levee more than 4 inches thick is a safety hazard. The Tensas Levee Basin District disagrees with the army corps regulations, but has gone through with chopping down trees in select locations along the river, much to the anger of homeowners who lost their foliage.

Jamika Grimes has lived near the levee on South Grand Street for a year and a half. She says she enjoys the view of the trees when she walks out her front door. "kind of a nice neighborhood to be at, I liked the greenery when we got the house." Says Grimes. Because of the corps of engineers regulations the trees that line the levee near her home could be taken out.

The Tensas Basin Levee District reluctantly started taking down marked trees in order to maintain federal standards required for FEMA accreditation. John stringer, executive director for the district says there is no evidence that the trees are affecting the integrity of the levees. "Our initial response was "where is the safety issue" because there never has been. Parts of this levee system have been intact since the 1930's,  the trees have been there most of the life of the project and never caused a problem." says Stringer. Stringer says the levees are totally capable of doing what they were designed to do, whether or not the trees are near the levee.

"We're out there patrolling these levees all the time, if something like that occurred it would be in the form of seepage, and we have measures of dealing with seepage. As of today it is not a problem and I have spoke to people from all over the east coast and west coast with levee systems who have not witnessed any problems either." added Stringer.

As for Grimes, she says she can accept the scenery if it means her and her family will stay safe.  She says "I feel it's a good thing to do, I think they're doing it right around the right time with hurricane season starts so I agree with it."

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