Stuart Leavenworth: Why can’t Corps of Engineers leave our trees be?


Three condemned prisoners are waiting to be executed by a guillotine: a priest, a lawyer and an engineer.

The priest is first in line. The warden puts the priest’s head in the guillotine and pulls the lever, but nothing happens. The warden suspects that the blade has malfunctioned because of divine intervention. So he lets the priest live.

The warden then places the lawyer’s head securely in the guillotine and pulls the lever. Again, nothing happens. The warden sees this as a sign that a beheaded lawyer will result in a costly lawsuit. So he lets the lawyer live.

Then the engineer’s head is placed in the guillotine. The warden’s about to pull the lever when the engineer interjects: “You know what, warden? I think I know how to fix your problem.”

I mention this joke about engineers (told to me by an engineer) because it illustrates a couple of points:

• Engineers often have a sense of humor.

• Some of them become so fixated on the task at hand that they miss the larger picture.

This latter group apparently occupies high offices at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. How do I know this? Because the corps continues to push policies that could lead to clearing of trees along our rivers and streams in the Central Valley.

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