By Deanna Contreras
SANTA ROSA — As part of its response to California’s tree mortality crisis, PG&E will conduct aerial patrols in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties this week 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 Sonoma County Airport and the Ukiah Municipal Airport at 8 a.m. and fly through 4 p.m. over the following areas:
Wednesday, Sept. 20:
- Highway 101 over Santa Rosa, Windsor and Cotati and over the communities of Fulton, Mark West, Tomales, Dillon Beach and Valley Ford
Thursday, Sept. 21:
- Over the town of Covelo and the community of Dos Rios
Friday, Sept. 22:
- Highway 101 over the town of Laytonville and the communities of Branscomb and Longvale
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.
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