Beetle-kill clearing job set to start

Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Homer Electric Association and the Kenai Peninsula Borough have signed a cooperative agreement to remove beetle-killed trees between Tutka Bay and Sadie Cove on the south shore of Kachemak Bay.

Under the agreement, the borough will fund the utility’s right of way clearing project with an appropriation of $366,220 already approved by the assembly in February.

In return, HEA will spend an equal amount on the Kenai Peninsula where wilderness abuts developed areas, the so-called wildland-urban interface.

Downing the dead trees along the Sadie Cove-Tutka Bay power line will help ensure power to remote south-bay communities is not cut off. The money from the borough will not be sufficient to remove all the trees, but nothing in the agreement or the February ordinance that appropriated the funds obligates the borough to supply further funding.

The borough’s Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Program will manage the project on behalf of the borough.

The project will remove dead trees along the 3.5-mile corridor carrying power lines that supply energy to Seldovia, Port Graham and Nanwalek.

According to HEA, many of the hazard trees lie beyond the utility’s 40-foot right of way, but often are blown into the corridor by high winds. The project is expected to greatly improve the quality of service provided to HEA members and reduce fire risks, according to HEA.

The utility has contracted with Carlos Tree Service Inc. to complete the project that will begin as soon as weather conditions permit. The job is expected to take about two months.

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