Planned removal of vegetation near C-18 Canal angers some homeowners near Palm Beach Gardens

SUBURBAN PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The planned removal of vegetation near the banks of the C-18 Canal has angered some homeowners in Palm Beach Country Estates.

On Thursday, some homeowners said the South Florida Water Management District, which is responsible for the maintenance of some right-of-ways near South Florida canals, wanted to clear too much vegetation -- some, in their backyards.

"The idea is to cut down trees for their so-called inspection," Michael Ryan, a Palm Beach Country Estates resident said. "Their initial proposal was to remove all the trees and put sod 15 feet beyond [the levee] to check for leaks. We'd like to see them cut less trees."

Randy Smith, a spokesperson for the South Florida Water Management District, said some vegetation had to be cleared for flood control measures.

Smith said instead of clearing 15-feet of vegetation, the removal would likely be limited to invasive species of plants and trees, such as the Australian pine.

"The [U.S.] Army Corps [of Engineers] maintains the jurisdiction over the levees and certain facets of the canal," Smith said. "One of the requirements is that you keep the canal right-of-ways clear of exotics or anything that could pose a threat to your conveyance if you have a storm."

Ryan, whose property line is more than eighty feet from the canal, wondered if the removal was necessary.

"A lot of these people have beautified their backyards. They have irrigation systems. You could cut down all the trees and you'll never see the base of the levee," Ryan said.

The levee, Ryan said, was buried eight feet underground.

"Part of this is kind of what people see when they think of broken government," Ryan said. "You're doing something just because procedure says so. And, they're not really allowing common sense to play into it."

Smith, the South Florida Water Management District spokesperson, said the removal of vegetation near the banks of canals in South Florida had been common practice since the 1950s.

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