Levees must be properly operated and maintained to reduce flood risk to people living and working in communities behind these levees. The Corps Levee Safety Program requires inspections be conducted to determine whether levees are being properly operated and maintained. Vegetation and other encroachments can harm the structural integrity of levees, obscure visibility, impede access for maintenance and inspection and/or hinder emergency flood-fighting operations. The minimum acceptable Vegetation-Free Zone (VFZ) is defined as including the levee itself (including any appurtenant structures) plus a corridor fifteen feet in width on either side of the levee and its appurtenant structures. If an existing project easement (real estate interest) allows for less than 15 feet, the VFZ shall be the maximum attainable within the existing real estate interest. The Corps continues to work with local sponsors to determine the best path forward for areas containing noncompliant vegetation on levees whose removal may impact endangered species. The Corps’ Engineering Research and Development Center is conducting research to further investigate the affects of large woody vegetation on levees. Any change to current Corps vegetation management policy and standards will be based upon sound engineering and science, and will not adversely affect public safety. Public safety will remain the paramount consideration.