By Deanna Contreras
UKIAH — As part of its response to California’s tree mortality crisis, PG&E will conduct aerial patrols in Mendocino and Lake counties on Wednesday (July 26) to identify dead trees that could pose a wildfire or other public safety risk.
“Even with the abundant rain this winter, 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 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.
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 10,750 of those miles by helicopter.
Depending on clear weather conditions, the helicopter will leave the Ukiah Municipal Airport and fly between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Foresters will inspect trees along Highway 1 over the towns of Point Arena and Manchester and the communities of Flumeville and Stronetta and then along Highways 29 and 53 over the towns of Lower Lake, Clearlake and Hidden Valley Lake.
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. 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.
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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