Dallas Fights to Save Trees Along Trinity River

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Friday, May 21, 2010  |  Updated 6:30 PM CDT
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Trinity Tree Debate

NBCDFW.com

Federal officials want hundreds of trees removed along the Trinity River.

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Trinity Tree Debate

Dallas is at odds with federal officials who regulate the Dallas Trinity river levees. This time it's over the city's vision of a tree lined natural river channel downtown.
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Federal officials want hundreds of trees removed along the Dallas Trinity River in the name of flood control.

Dallas city officials said this week they are fighting an opinion from the Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers that trees within 50 feet of the river levees should be removed.

Currently, the city is working to comply with a lesser requirement that trees within 15 feet of the levee be removed.

"We don’t agree with this 50-foot interpretation from the Fort Worth district office," Councilman Dave Neumann said. "We have very consistently said -- all up the chain of command said -- this 50-foot interpretation is too egregious.”

But Army Corp of Engineers experts believe all the trees between the Dallas Trinity River levees should be removed, according to Assistant Dallas City Manager Jill Jordan.

She told the City Council Trinity River Corridor Committee on Tuesday that there are two factions of experts in the Corp.

"One wants a real clean hydraulic, very efficient drainage channel, and the other faction wants a more natural, better ecosystem, better for water quality, better for fish," Jordan said.

Dallas city leaders envision an expanded park between the Trinity River levees with a natural, tree-lined river channel.

Charles Allen, of Trinity River Expeditions, earns his living from canoe and kayak excursions down the river, beneath the urban Dallas river bridges.

"It would be a shame to see it relegated to just a drainage ditch, because it’s so much more than that," he said.

Allen said it would be bad for the environment to remove all the trees, and city officials said it would be very expensive.

"So that’s kind of our longterm issue that we will be working with the Corp and making sure that it falls the way we want it to fall," Jordan said.

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