The Business of Forest Enterprise / Urban Ecosystems

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In 2009, five unique methods were used to inspect vegetation-related conditions along Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) rights-of-way (ROW). Some methods were trials that BPA committed to execute as part of a settlement with its regional regulatory organization, the Western Electric Coordination Council (WECC), for violations of reliability standards from vegetation grow-in related outages. A combination of simple, stratified, and 100% sampling were used to compare and contrast each inspection technique. A cost-replacement comparison between all inspection techniques was performed, weighting efficacy of one technique to another in the form of replacement value. Cost-benefit and return-on-investment analyses were also computed. From these analyses, LiDAR proved most effective in identifying vegetation related clearance issues but proved most costly, at least for initial establishment. The average cost of LiDAR trended downward with subsequent flights. The most cost effective method was using helicopters with either Natural Resource Specialists (NRS) or Transmission Line Maintenance (TLM) personnel serving as aerial observers, but this methodology proved the most inaccurate. Furthermore, the ancillary utility of LiDAR for related asset assessments more than justify the initial expense, includes power line sag ratings, asset (structures, insulators, roads, etc.) health, and encroachment identification. It is hypothesized that incorporating LiDAR sampling from 20% of the whole system per year to 40+ % may actually represent a cost-savings when allocating available resources system-wide. This data can also be used for documenting compliance with all federal regulations and requirements, as well as substitute for manual on-the-ground inspections, whether by BPA staff or third-party contractors.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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