3 Ways Lane Electric Approaches Vegetation Management

By April Matson

Lane Electric Cooperative brought in a specialized helicopter crew in June to side trim rights-of-way up the McKenzie River.

The Pacific Northwest is known for its lush, green scenery. However, in rural areas served by Lane Electric Cooperative, trees are the No. 1 cause of outages.

Luckily, Skip Shipman— a utility specialist and arborist with 30 years of experience in the field—is at the helm of the cooperative’s vegetation management program.

Vegetation management not only is important to minimize power outages, but is crucial for wildfire prevention, too.

Maintaining the power line right-of-way is necessary to deliver electrical services to local communities.

Safely maintaining 1,479 miles of power line is time-consuming and—if not approached with great care—dangerous.

Lane Electric is using new equipment and techniques to maintain proper clearances in efficient, cost-effective ways.

Here’s a glimpse into how the cooperative addresses vegetation management.

Tree-Trimming Cycle

The cooperative operates on a 3-year cycle, meaning each service area receives a focused trimming and maintenance effort every 3 years. In between cycles, hot spots are addressed as needed to maintain safe and reliable service.

In rural areas of Lane County, hot-spot maintenance is most often directed at 3 troublesome species: timber bamboo, cottonwood and Oregon bigleaf maple.

All 3 have the potential to grow more than 30 feet in one season and are taxing to maintain.

New Equipment & Techniques

A Jarraff all-terrain tree trimmer makes quick work clearing rights-of-way. In a minute or two, it completes work that would take a hand tree crew 30 minutes.

Lane Electric contracts with several specialists and crews to maintain our service territory. In June, a specialized helicopter crew was hired to side trim rights-of-way up the McKenzie River.

The same crew spent time in Creswell using a topping saw to address more than 200 snags, or potential problem trees, in a single day.

Another new approach to safely and efficiently maintain rights-of-way in heavily forested areas is with a Jarraff all-terrain tree trimmer. This four-wheel-drive machine can access cross-country areas and prune to 75 feet in height—more than the reach of bucket trucks.

What would normally take a hand tree crew 30 minutes can be accomplished in just a minute or two. This increases production exponentially while lowering costs. These techniques are efficient, cost-effective and safer than deploying crews to hard-to-reach areas.

Member Involvement

There are several ways for members to help mitigate vegetation-related outages.

Call (541) 484-1151 to report trees, branches or other vegetation-based interferences in the lines.

Since some trees grow faster than others, please plant new trees in the right places. Avoid planting directly under power lines. When planting within 30 feet of power lines, plant trees that will grow no higher than 25 feet.

Lastly, allow Lane Electric to clear plants and trees that could interfere with your neighbors’ service or put your home at undue wildfire risk.

Remember: We are all in this together.

Learn more about what you can do, and the rules and regulations for members relating to tree trimming and planting on our Tree Trimming page.

These before and after photos show the extensive work done by Lane Electric’s crew to keep rights-of-way clear. Photos by Skip Shipman