After securing a $1 million grant to stabilize the north side of Lodi Lake, Lodi Public Works is developing plans to preserve the lake’s eroding embankment near the Mokelumne River.

The damage caused to the embankment has threatened the amphitheater and Rotary Picnic Shelter at Lodi Lake Park in recent years. The grant came partially thanks to the efforts of Assemblyman Jim Cooper, who ensured that funding would be included in the state’s 2018-19 budget.

During a shirtsleeve meeting on Tuesday morning, Lodi senior civil engineer Sean Nathan led a presentation introducing the plans and permits the city will pursue as it moves forward with bank stabilization efforts.

In December 2018, Stockton engineering firm Kjeldsen, Sinnock & Neudeck, Inc. provided city staff with a proposed design for the river bank project, which includes rock slop protection (known as rip-rap) along the embankment, new grass and plants, as well as the removal and replanting of trees.

Thirty trees will be removed from along the embankment, Nathan said.

“We are going to be taking out trees — many of which are diseased and falling over — and a few non-native trees,” he said.

Although some of the non-native trees are believed to be healthy, they will need to be removed due to requirements set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ aquatic habitat restoration, establishment and enhancements permit. The city has no choice in the matter, Nathan said.

“You are going to remove healthy trees because they are not native trees species,” City Councilman Bob Johnson said. “Government at its best.”

Johnson asked Public Works Director Charles Swimley if there was a planting ratio that would require the city to replant five trees for every tree taken down.

“There is not an existing ordinance, but there are plans to replant the trees that are removed,” Swimley said.

There have been planting ratio provisions in the past for certain projects, Lodi City Manager Steve Schwabauer said, but on an ad hoc basis as determined by the project.

“Have we hired with an arborist to examine the trees before they get cut down? Because we got so many complaints when we cut down the trees near the beach,” City Councilman Alan Nakanishi said.

Both an arborist and a biologist were contacted to review the conditions of the trees and determine if they were healthy and in good condition, Nathan said.

“The 30 trees being removed are already sloped at a 45-degree angle or have just completely fallen over, as well as the non-native trees,” he said.

Any removed memorial trees or those with plaques will be replanted, he added. The city will notify groups and families who sponsored those trees.

Lodi will also apply for permits with the State Regional Board and the State Department of Fish and Wildlife before mobilizing their plans. The permit process is lengthy, but Public Works hopes to move forward with a complete plan by next winter, and begin construction by February 2021.

“February is the most ideal construction time because the water levels are low, which will make this an easier process,” Nathan said.

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