Punji sticks under the powerlines: Issues resolved

This Spring, while dog-walking on the trails joining the Gold Creek Subdivision, where we live, to the South Star Recreation area, my neighbour Terry Molnar and I discovered a number of sharpened stumps under the BC Hydro power lines.

Because of the risk of electrical arcing between the power lines and trees below, knocking out power to communities along the way in wet weather, Hydro hires contractors to keep trees under the lines from growing tall.

However, the machine cutting and grinding these pine trees was slicing tree trunks at a steep angle, leaving foot-high, sharp, Punji stick-shaped stumps scattered along the ground, capable of impaling passing trail users and their dogs or horses.

Also, range cattle and wildlife like deer and elk would be in danger, especially when travelling through after dark.

If you aren’t old enough to remember Punji stick traps used in the Vietnam War, you can Google the horrendous injuries they inflicted on American soldiers.

As we walked by these sharp stumps week after week, I became motivated enough approach for their input another neighbour, Rocke Robertson — who volunteers on the South Star Recreation Society — Jordy Thibeault — a local rancher who runs his range cattle in the area — and Dan Murphy and Marc Trudeau, who are foresters with undergrowth slashing experience through the Rocky Mountain Trench Society.

All agreed that sharp stumps pose a safety risk and could be cut off flat close to the ground by a crew with brush saws.

Rocke agreed to contact Bill Laflin, BC Hydro’s local Transmission Vegetation Maintenance Coordinator, about the problem. Bill graciously agreed to join us on a walkthrough of the area of concern. Last week Rocke, Terry and I met Bill at the South Star gate and toured the area under the power line that had been recently slashed.

Our special thanks go to the pair of hikers that paused with their friendly dogs, to share safety concerns they had, especially when riding their horses under the power lines. Bill, from Hydro, said those young ladies really convinced him that these sharp stumps are a definite safety concern that should be dealt with by BC Hydro slashing crews.

Yes, when dealing with social or environmental issues, it is nice to have friends and responsible, cooperative, corporate citizens.

Weed Warrior Frank

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