PG&E Using Helicopters to Spot Dead, Dying Trees in Sonoma County

PG&E is conducting aerial patrols to identify dead trees in Sonoma County Thursday and Friday, a spokeswoman for the utility said.

A helicopter service will fly foresters as low as 200 and 300 feet above distribution power lines and higher in areas where livestock are present along U.S. Highway 101 and state Highways 12 and 128 in the area of Santa Rosa, Cloverdale and Asti in northern Sonoma County, PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said.

The helicopters will fly in and out of the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

"Five years of drought and bark beetle infestation in California have caused millions of trees to die or become structurally compromised," said Dave Canny, PG&E's senior manager in the Sonoma County division.

"We've made significant progress to help reduce wildfire risk by removing dead and dying trees and we're not slowing down," Canny said.

PG&E 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, Contreras said.

PG&E expects to patrol over half of its overhead distribution lines at least twice this year, Contreras said.

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