For more than a decade, officials said, 20 miles of the Fresno River through north Madera County became more of a dangerous rural jungle than a potential path for snow melt and other water sources to flow freely.
As brush, trees, and species of grass grew over 10 feet in height and jutted forth over banks, officials said the overgrown span of river drew not only flooding and fire concerns from residents but also provided cover for illegal waste dumps and homeless encampments.
The issue here was funding, officials said. With about $170,000 annually for the county’s entire flood-control budget — about a 10th of a percent from the county’s property-tax revenues — and the need to contract work through private companies, there just wasn’t enough money to take hold of the problem.
“We haven’t taken care of this area for probably more than 10 years,” county engineer Kheng “Ken” Vang said. “That is not a good timeline. We want to do this about every three years, but in the past there has been a lack of funding and staff available.” ...