FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2007
CONTACT: Alise Goforth (503) 475-4853
Bridgeton Neighborhood Assoc.
Brent Foster (541) 380-1334
Levee Expert Says Planned Tree Removal on Bridgeton Levee Would Threaten Neighborhood Safety:
Neighbors Threaten Lawsuit with Tree Cutting Potentially Starting this Wednesday
Portland, OR- The Bridgeton Neighborhood Association’s (BNA) and Columbia Riverkeeper’s fight to stop the Peninsula Drainage District from cutting over 150 trees on the Bridgeton Levee took a serious turn today when a national geo-technical expert filed an affidavit saying that the removal of trees on the levee would threaten levee safety and increase the likelihood that the levee would breach. Dr. Donald H. Gray, Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, has been in Portland this week surveying the levee and preparing a report to give to the Peninsula Drainage District on behalf of the Neighborhood Association.
The Columbia Riverkeepers and BNA filed a formal notice of negligence today with the Drainage District based on Dr. Gray’s findings and those of related studies that put the District on notice that if they cut the Bridgeton trees as proposed and there is a later breach in the levee that they will hold the District and its Supervisors legally liable for damages.
Dr. Gray plainly reported that if the trees are cut down their roots will then rot and create channels in the levee which water could pass through during a high water event. He explained that the “dying roots will eventually rot or decay and be converted from tensile reinforcements to zones of weakness or holes that will act as potential seepage conduits during high water or flood stage events.”
“This is not rocket science,” explains Matt Whitney, President of the BNA, “but the Drainage District is using outdated science, or no science at all to manage our levee. In the process they are going to put all of our lives at risk if they remove the trees on the Bridgeton Levee.”
Alise Goforth, who lives behind the Bridgeton Levee agrees. “While this started because the neighborhood did not want to lose our trees, the reality now is that the District is risking our lives and property by relying on science that is over 50 years old and clearly proven wrong by catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina. We fully intend to hold them legally accountable for their negligence”
“How can they justify cutting over 600 trees based on an outdated and flawed policy when they know that the science is definitely against them?”, commented Brent Foster, Executive Director of The Columbia Riverkeepers.
The Drainage District has already cut over 600 trees adjacent to the Bridgeton neighborhood and have marked trees for cutting and installed sediment fences in the Bridgeton neighborhood and may begin cutting in the neighborhood on Wednesday.