CHICO, Calif. – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will fly low by helicopter over portions of Butte, Plumas and Lassen counties on Thursday and Friday to check for drought-stricken trees near power lines.
In Butte County, the Thursday flights will occur over the areas of Forbestown, Robinson Mills and Feather Falls. In Plumas County, Friday’s flights will occur along the north side of Lake Almanor and the Lake Almanor Peninsula. Flights will also occur over the western Lassen County communities of Clear Creek and Westwood.
Residents are advised that the helicopter will fly low – about 200 to 300 feet – along distribution power lines.
PG&E is using a contract helicopter service to fly foresters to check for trees weakened by the drought. This patrol is in addition to the annual patrols PG&E conducts along power lines to identify trees and vegetation in need of pruning and removal. Weakened trees and branches can fall into power lines, leading to outages and even wild land fires.
The drought has weakened and killed many trees and left others susceptible to disease or insects. After the flights, foresters will hike to the trees in question for a closer inspection to verify tree conditions. Once a forester confirms a tree needs to be removed, PG&E will work with the property owner to schedule a contractor to cut the tree.
Consecutive years of drought have taken a toll on trees and even some trees deemed healthy six months ago have since succumbed to the dry conditions.
The U.S. Forest Service recently identified an exponentially growing rate of tree mortality in California. In 2014, 11 million dead trees were identified throughout the state. That number grew to 40 million in 2015 and 102 million in 2016.
While tree mortality is more serious in 10 counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region, the Forest Service also identified increasing mortality in the northern part of the state.
Weather permitting, flights will occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.