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City will remove trees around Portneuf River soon

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Apr 25 2013 06:49:30 PM CDT

The city of Pocatello will soon begin removing trees from the yards of people living along the Portneuf River.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

The city of Pocatello will soon begin removing trees from the yards of people living along the Portneuf River.

The city says the trees in question shouldn't have been there in the first place, and now the roots are causing damage to the levee.

Trees along the Portneuf River are beginning to cause the levee walls to crack, creating potential for flooding in the future.

Some folks may be upset about losing their trees, but there is one woman who thinks both the trees and levies can be saved.

"Take big sheets of metal, and drive them down next to the cement,” said Jan Mattingly, who lives on the Portneuf River. “It will chop off any branches that are going into it, it will give it more stability, and you won't have to chop down a bunch of trees."

In theory, it's a good idea. However, the city of Pocatello said itwon't work.

"Even with a steel plate behind them, it's still going to push," said Street Operations Superintendent Randy Ghezzi.  "It's not going to just grow the other way because we put steel plates in there."

Ghezzi says that the city is following the operation responsibilities set in place since 1968.

"There is a ten-foot clear zone behind the concrete walls that is an easement for any maintenance and any flood fight that may have to take place in those areas," Ghezzi said. "That always should have been maintained as just that."

The 10-foot clear zone will not only apply to trees, but structures like decks, sheds and even dog houses.

The city spent this winter at Sacajawea Park cutting down trees, and will be going back soon to remove the stumps.

While creating the clear zone will make things safer along the river, some people are still concerned about the wildlife that has taken root in those trees, helping the local ecosystem.

Mattingly said while she understands the city's position, she just hopes there can be some even ground that won't take away part of the history of downtown Pocatello.

"All the critters that live in the trees, the squirrels, the birds,” said Mattingly. “I know the birds eat the insects, so to cut down our ecosystem is maybe biting our tail off."

But the city maintains that anything within 10feet of the levee wall is a hazard to much more than just animal life.

"It's important for us to have them out of our way,” said Ghezzi. “It's for public safety."

Ghezzi also said that the tree roots are also interfering with the backups in place for excess water.

There are drainage systems in place that tree roots can block, increasing the risk of flooding.

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