Sugar Land levees being “repaired” of their tree canopy

Sugar Land, TX (October 28, 2008)- Following a spattering of recent hurricanes (Katrina, Rita, Ike, and Gustav to name a few), FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have undertaken a nationwide levee improvement project to address future flood potential. Lead by Trees for Houston, citizens are concerned that more trees are being removed than necessary.

Both the Sugar Land City Manager’s Office and the Levee Improvement District (L.I.D.) confirmed that they have received numerous complaints regarding the tree removals, but attempted to distance themselves from the work. Andre McDonald, President of the Fort Bend County L.I.D. #2, said that the recent tree removals were part of a post Ike “pass through to remove storm damaged trees.” However, Trees for Houston contends that more than just damaged trees are coming down.
McDonald also stated, “This is also part of a nationwide FEMA levee improvement project as a reaction to Katrina, and this is just the beginning. When the FEMA levee project starts, every tree within 15 feet of the levee toe (base) will be removed because FEMA has determined that tree roots can compromise the levee by creating water channels.”
Arborists in the Houston area claim that tree roots actually help to hold the levee together, and that the larger problem is that the levees no longer protect urban areas from unsettled areas. Trees For Houston notes that when the levees were originally built to protect the Sweetwater subdivision, the south side was fields. Now on the fields’ side are the Commonwealth and Avalon subdivisions. So with subdivisions on each side of the levee, it may lead one to wonder, who is the levee actually protecting?
Related Resources:
Trees for Houston
Sugar Land City Manager’s Office