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Angling For Reliability

Vegetation Management Keeps Trees Out of the Lines and Lights On

Imagine starting your work day by hanging from a rope as you moved down the side of a mountain.

That’s what some of our vegetation management staff and contractors did recently to remove trees on a high-angle slope on the Sunshine Coast.

“Vegetation on high-angle slopes like hills and mountains can cause problems for a few reasons,” says Jonathan Mitchell, Vegetation coordinator for North Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. “On a slope, the earth around the trees is less stable and can move easily. This means that roots can often move and shift, making the trees less stable and a potential threat to any lines or poles we have in the area. That’s why we need to carefully manage trees on slopes.”

The Hydro vegetation crews had very capably managed the at-risk trees and vegetation in that area, but needed more highly qualified arborists, rope specialists and helicopter pilots to complete this work. Before the work started, Asplundh and Global prepared a safe work procedure for carrying out this demanding work.

“The Asplundh CUAs are certified to work around energized conductors,” said Jonathan. “They know how to keep themselves, their tools and the vegetation they’re working on all outside of the limits of approach. The Global Mountain Solutions crew provided rope access for the arborists on steep slopes, using the SPRAT-certified rope work methods, and we used Blackcomb Helicopters for our helicopter and pilot to get us out to the project.”

Jho Bassett, one of the contractors with Asplundh said that the crew from Global Mountain Solutions worked well to keep them safe. 

“It took almost a full day to make a trail up to where we were going and get the anchor set to do the work,” he said. “They would go through the trail first, walking from one section to the next, getting the access through the trees. We can get down easily with the ropes they set up by walking yourself down, and they had an exit for us down below with one guy there.”

Jonathan said the work was planned and done in seven days, and that it will help our reliability on the Sunshine Coast. 

“We spent one day on the 1L31, a loop feed for the Sunshine Coast that supplies one of our big customers, Woodfibre LNG, and acts as back-up power for the Port Mellon pulp mill, so these are crucial lines,” he said. “The remaining time we worked on the 5L30-32 off of Salmon Inlet. That is another important line, because if it goes out, we could lose Vancouver Island.” 

Jonathan said he was impressed with the high skill level of the work, and the safe completion of the job. 

“I’ve already been talking to crews on the North Shore and Pemberton to see if they have any high angle work to tackle, and we may have them back next fiscal to tackle a few other sites, or to work on similar areas near distribution lines or on dam faces,” he said. 

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top to bottom-left to right
1. Arrival on site checking out the work 2. GMS crew pre-scaling slopes to remove hazards 3. A crew member getting geared up and trained before accessing the high-angle site. 4. Asplundh crew member accessing a high angle slash site. 5. The view down. 6. Clearing a trail through the brush. 

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