Trees removed to prevent flooding of Rio Laja
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
During the last two months workers have labored to clean up part of the Rio Laja between the rural communities of Atotonilco and San Miguelito Dos, including removing some trees. Ramiro Arroyo, director of the Civil Protection Department, told Atención that the tree removal is legal and that the removed trees were transplanted.
On March 1 and 2 of this year, authorities from the state government and the National Commission of Water inspected the Río Laja as part of the Program of Prevention During the Rainy Season. They were joined by personnel from the municipal government including representatives of the Civil Protection, Public Works and Social Development Departments, who made a report about the state of the river in those communities. The report noted that over a stretch of 500 meters the river is clogged with silt and an extraordinarily strong current could cause the river to overflow its banks, damaging the houses of four families and the chapel of San Miguelito.
Arroyo said that the river has never been cleaned up and “it was very necessary.” He commented that a few years ago inhabitants of the area planted some trees in the middle of the river to protect a small bridge connecting Atotonilco and San Miguelito from the currents. These trees caused silt to accumulate and form two islands in the river, decreasing water passage by half.
To prevent flooding, the municipality asked permission from CONAGUA to clean up that 500-meter area of the river. At the end of May, CONAGUA granted permission for “the elimination of any obstacle in the water course, even trees within the waterway.”
Arroyo said that they received two complaints from citizens about the removal of the trees.
One area resident said that the removed trees were planted ten or more years ago. “It was a very beautiful area, and we used to dance zumba there. The area had grass where the children could play. I do not agree with the removal of the trees.” One of the employees of Public Works said that the removed trees have been used as firewood by the inhabitants.
Arroyo stated that the removed trees were moved to the banks of the river, where around two dozen transplanted trees can be seen.