British Columbia

BC Hydro on the lookout for drought-damaged trees

BC Hydro plans to keep a close eye on trees growing near power lines this winter for signs the summer drought may have left them vulnerable to toppling.

Cedars are particularly vulnerable to drought damage, says one expert

BC Hydro estimates that 710,000 (or 50 per cent) of its customers on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland lost power due to a wind storm on Aug 29. The storm knocked down trees and caused what is believed to be the single largest outage event in BC Hydro’s history. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

BC Hydro plans to keep a close eye on trees growing near power lines this winter for signs the summer drought may have left them vulnerable to toppling.

Crews typically check trees around power lines every four years, but spokesman Ted Olynyk says they'll be getting extra attention this year.

"Certainly with all this dry weather and stress the trees have experienced, I know our vegetation crews are being extra vigilant when they are out there patrolling," said Olynyk.

Some regions with a lot of trees may need extra attention, according Olynyk.

"Vancouver Island has more trees per utility line than anywhere else in North America. The stress they experienced, it can impact them going into the winter and certainly next spring and next summer," he said.

Hidden stress

Indeed, the signs of drought damage may not appear until the spring, according to some experts.

And certain species such as cedars could struggle the most, according to Kamil Khan with Cedar Grove Tree Service in Victoria.

"You see the branches, the needles a little flagged out, brown, more typical that other years," says Khan.

Even if a tree is showing signs of stress, in most cases it's worth waiting until the spring to see if it can make a recovery before deciding if it needs to come down, he says.

BC Hydro is asking people to call if they are worried about trees near power lines.

 

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