By Paul Moreno
As part of its response to California’s tree mortality crisis, PG&E will conduct low-flying helicopter patrols in Shasta, Tehama and Trinity counties this week to identify dead trees that could pose a wildfire or other public safety risk.
On Wednesday (June 28), flights will occur over the eastern Shasta County communities of Big Bend, Lake Britton, Fall River Mills, Fall River Lake, Cassel, Hat Creek and Old Station.
On Thursday (June 29), flights will occur from Platina in Shasta County to Wildwood in Trinity County, and over the Tehama County communities of Paynes Creek, Manton, Mill Creek and Mineral. Depending on clear weather conditions, flights will occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for both days.
Residents are advised that the helicopter will fly low — about 200 to 300 feet — along distribution power lines, and higher in areas where livestock are present.
“Even with the recent winter storms, five years of drought in California have caused millions of trees to die or become structurally compromised,” said Kamran Rasheed, manager, PG&E vegetation management. “That’s why we are taking extraordinary measures to help keep the communities we serve safe.”
Every year, PG&E patrols and inspects all 134,000 miles of its overhead electric lines. Since the tree mortality crisis began, the energy company has been inspecting trees along power lines in high fire-danger areas a second time, six months after its annual patrol because weakened trees can die quickly and could fall into power lines and cause an outage or fire.
Last year, PG&E conducted second patrols on 68,000 miles of power line, and in 2017, expects to patrol 73,000 miles of line a second time. The company will patrol about 10,750 of those miles by helicopter.
PG&E is using a contract helicopter service to fly foresters over the area to inspect trees. Patrolling by air allows the company to cover many miles quickly and efficiently, and reduces impacts on the ground.
If patrols identify dead trees, PG&E will send inspectors on foot to verify a tree is dead, and then contact the home or land owner to schedule removal.
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