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Trees threat to flood insurance

Tue., July 26, 2011

Flood insurance premiums for Coeur d’Alene’s Fort Ground neighborhood could rise astronomically if the city doesn’t cut down the trees growing on the dike road levee, the city’s engineer warned Monday.

Thwarting the Army Corps of Engineers’ order to remove the trees could result in the Fort Grounds being classified as within the 100-year flood plain, City Engineer Gordon Dobler said Monday. If that happened, homeowners would have to pay thousands of dollars each year for flood insurance, he said. In addition, Coeur d’Alene would have difficulty insuring its wastewater treatment plant and North Idaho College couldn’t insure its campus at face value, Dobler said.

Army Corps officials have told the city that hundreds of mature pine trees growing on the dike road levee threaten the levee’s stability. The levee separates NIC and the Fort Grounds neighborhood from Lake Coeur d’Alene. Built by the Army Corps for flood protection in the 1940s, the levee came with an agreement that the city would maintain it to the corps’ standards.

Other areas of the levee also need maintenance, Army Corps officials have indicated. Footpaths to the NIC beach have created gullies that need to be filled in, and recent high water has eroded parts of the levee’s base.

Dobler suggested continuing talks with the Army Corps about ways to save large trees, while starting work on other levee repairs. The three-member public works committee reluctantly voted to accept his recommendation, which will be forwarded to the City Council for consideration.

“My first response is ‘Hell no,’ ” said City Councilman Al Hassell. But the federal government holds a pretty big hammer for noncompliance, he said.

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