We’ve all seen our lights flicker on and off, or have come home to see the clocks on the stove flashing twelve o’clock — this is usually due to a short-circuit on a local power line. Trees and vegetation that come in contact with power lines can cause short-circuiting and other problems. If the vegetation remains in contact with the power lines, it can cause much more than just your house lights to blink or clocks to reset; it can trigger blackouts and potentially start fires, especially in dryer regions. Fortunately for us, there are companies like Nordstrom Vegetation LLC of Redmond, Ore. that specialize in right-of-way clearing.
Founded in 2010, Nordstrom Vegetation is a small privately owned forest management company of 10 employees. The company works exclusively on power line right-of-way re-clearing, and do so throughout Idaho. An experienced group, safety is always at the forefront of what they do on a daily basis. One little slip or mishap is something they can ill-afford.
Whether severe storms cause trees to fall across the lines, or surrounding trees and vegetation grow into the lines, it is important to get out ahead of it. Nordstrom Vegetation is required for trees to have a minimum clearing zone of 30 ft. (9 m) from each side of the power lines they work on.
If the tree branches come within the zone, they will be trimmed back to the trunk of the tree. Working with power lines is a dangerous job in itself, but it escalates to an even higher risk when adding in equipment to cut trees down and remove shrubs around the lines. Despite a high-risk job, right-of-way clearing is necessary to eliminate the potential costs that trees or growing vegetation could do to power lines.
One of Nordstrom Vegetation’s latest projects required them to do right-of-way clearing of 230 transmission power lines in the mountains of North Idaho. It was a major re-clear throughout the mountain’s 30-mi. (48 km) stretch of transmission power lines. The six-month job required a hand crew, tree climbers, and a Takeuchi TB285 excavator with a Fecon mulching head. They went through and mowed all the brush, and removed any trees or branches from underneath the power lines. They also cleaned all of the big timbers along the edges to create a 100-ft. (30 m) right-of-way.
Nordstrom Vegetation has been running Takeuchi equipment for the past three years. Initially, the company went to FMI Equipment in Spokane, Wash., because they needed a compact track loader with a mower attachment. FMI Equipment was the only dealer around the area that provided rentals with the full package. After a recommendation from FMI Equipment’s President Dave Kopp, Nordstrom Vegetation rented the Takeuchi TL10 compact track loader for a project. Following that project, they needed an excavator with a mulching head attached to it and decided on renting the Takeuchi TB285 compact excavator after having success with the TL10. The TB285 performed so well on the job, that Nordstrom Vegetation ended up buying it.
“I am hooked on Takeuchi products, they really do a great job for us,” said Paul Nordstrom, owner of Nordstrom Vegetation Services. “We use our Takeuchi machines exclusively for mulching. They are very reliable and have all the power we need for running our mulching heads. The operator comfort is also very good — overall it’s just a great package.”
To further their efficiency on the job, Nordstrom went back on the market for an additional excavator to go along with the TB285. FMI recommended one of the newest Takeuchi models, the TB290, which Nordstrom recently purchased in late October.
“In the limited time that we have had the TB290, it has performed very well for us,” said Nordstrom. “I have a very good relationship with Dave [Kopp] and FMI Equipment — they are always there to provide whatever needs that I have. We really listen to their advice, so I did not hesitate when Dave suggested the TB290. We are happy with the results the excavator has given us so far.”
With an operating weight of nearly 19,000 lbs. (8,618 kg), the TB290 is the second largest excavator offered in the Takeuchi lineup. It features a powerful and efficient turbocharged, Tier IV Final engine, and offers precise control of the load sensing hydraulic system. The versatile machine also has a digging depth of 15 ft. (4.6 m) and can reach over 24 ft. (7.3 m).
Next time a storm blows through your neck of the woods and your lights start to flicker, just remember there are companies out there who are working hard to prevent that from happening. While it can be a treacherous job without the right preventive measures in place, it’s one that saves money. Right-of-way clearing professionals like Nordstrom Vegetation, work to eliminate the threat of trees and vegetation wreaking havoc on power lines and cables. Like the old adage, a little preventive maintenance can go a long way.
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