As part of its ongoing response to California’s tree mortality crisis, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will conduct aerial patrols in the foothills of Butte and Yuba counties on Thursday and Friday to identify dead trees that could pose a wildfire or other public safety risk. The flights were originally scheduled for mid-March but were postponed due to weather.

“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 will continue this critical safety work in 2018,” said Carl Schoenhofer, senior manager of PG&E’s North Valley division.

In Yuba County the flights will occur over the communities of Loma Rica, Rackerby, Robinson Mill, Brownsville, Sunnyslope, Stanfield Hill and Oregon House.

In Butte County flights will occur over the communities of Bangor, Honcut, Oregon City, Pentz, Cherokee, Yankee Hill, Concow, Deadwood, Parkhill and Berry Creek.

Depending on clear weather conditions, flights will occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Every year, PG&E inspects and monitors every overhead electric transmission and distribution line, either on foot or by air, 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 2018, PG&E expects to patrol over half of its overhead distribution lines at least two times.

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 – at about 200 to 300 feet above the ground – along distribution power lines, and higher in areas where livestock are present.