That Low Flying Helicopter Is Probably With PG&E
As part of its ongoing response to California’s tree mortality crisis, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will conduct aerial patrols in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties on Friday, March 30, to identify dead trees that could pose a wildfire or other public safety risk.
“Five years of drought and bark beetle infestation in California have caused millions of trees to die or become structurally compromised. We’ve made significant progress to help reduce wildfire risk by removing dead and dying trees and we’re not slowing down. We are continuing this critical safety work in 2018,” said Carl Schoenhofer, senior manager of PG&E’s Humboldt Division.
Every year, PG&E inspects and monitors every overhead electric transmission and distribution line, with some locations patrolled multiple times. Since the tree mortality crisis began, the energy company has increased foot and aerial patrols in high fire-risk areas to twice a year and up to four times a year in some locations. In 2017, PG&E conducted secondary patrols on 65 percent of power lines, and in 2018, expects to patrol about 65 percent of lines a second time.
Flights on Friday will occur along Highways 101 and 36 and over the towns of Garberville, Benbow, Leggett, Mad River and Ruth and over the communities of Piercy, Harris, Whitethorn, Bell Springs and Dinsmore.
Depending on clear weather conditions, foresters will fly in and out of Murray Field in Eureka between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
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.