Central Point, Oregon, January 7, 2008 — Four companies specializing in environmental reclamation have partnered to assist the United States Forest Service with efforts to mitigate the erosion risk to communities surrounding the Santiago Burn Area.
Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated, manufacturer, and operator of S-64 Aircrane helicopters, has been working together with fixed-wing and helicopter service provider Aero Tech Incorporated (http://www.aerotechclovis.com ) to spread over 4.3 million gallons of erosion-resistant hydromulch over 1241 acres of the Cleveland National Forest, in Eastern Orange County, California.
Erickson employed an S-64 Aircrane Helitanker, the same airborne firefighter that helped suppress the catastrophic wildfires in Southern California, is using the 2,650-gallon fixed firefighting tank to apply hydromulch mixture to 1241 acres (1.9 square miles) of the Santiago Burn Area. Photos of the aircraft are available at www.fs.fed.us/r5/cleveland. Alongside were six Air Tractor AT-802 airplanes owned by Aero Tech of Clovis, New Mexico. The airplanes were recently employed to suppress the wildfires in Idaho, Washington, and Montana. National Forest Service lands within the Santiago Burn Area will remain closed to all public entry until Nov 2008, allowing all crews to work safely and quickly. The Cleveland National Forest has chosen to close the areas affected by the Santiago, Witch, Poomacha, and Harris fires to protect the public from falling and rolling debris and to prevent further resource damage on lands without a vegetative cover.
Western States Reclamation Incorporated (http://www.wsreclamation.com) and Wildlands Incorporated (http://www.wildlands-inc.com) provided over twelve hundred tons of Hydromulch mixture product, mixing machines, and project management expertise to assist in the rehabilitation of scorched mountain slopes laid bare by the "Santiago Fire" of Fall 2007.
Kellogg, Idaho -- Erickson Air-Crane, of Central Point, Oregon, working with Tri-State Hydroseeding, Inc. of Kingston Idaho, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency, succeeded in applying close to 2 million gallons (19 million pounds) of grass seed, fertilizer, and mulch to 365 acres of hillsides surrounding an abandoned silver mining operation. Application of the hydroseed mixture with the S-64 Aircrane helicopter was accomplished in 17 days and marked the fourth operation that has involved Erickson Air-Crane with the revegetation of the "Bunker Hill Superfund Site" designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as "Region 10".
The three previous operations were part of the sequential process laid out by the Army Corps of Engineers for revegetation of the chemically scorched landscape around the once productive ore refining facility. The first operation in September of 1998 involved applying pellet Lime to neutralize the acidic properties of the soil at designated areas of the site. This was followed by the application of a hydrous mixture of specially chosen grass seed, virgin wood fiber mulch, and tackifier. In June of 1999, Erickson Air-Crane employed an advanced version of the hydroseed tank that featured an on-board recirculation system to keep a saturated mixture of Lime and mulch in suspension during application over 757 acres of hillside. This latest stage of revegetation, which took place in October of 1999, involved spreading the grass seed, mulch, and tackifier mix to areas that had previously been covered with Lime. The latest hydroseed mixture incorporated 17 different species of grass native to the area as well as a new variety of polymer and organic tackifier mix.
Tri-State Hydroseeding, Inc., owned and operated by Shane Waechter, of Kingston, Idaho, brought 3 FINN hydroseed mixing vehicles to blend the quantities of seed, mulch, and tackifier. The three machines were needed to provide the mixture in sufficient quantity to refill the 2000 gallon capacity of the Helitanker during the 3-4 minute turn-around times between application and refill. The three machines fed the mixture into a central holding tank and batch mixer. A powerful pump brought the mixture out to the Aircrane landing pad through an 8-inch diameter hose at a rate close to 1900 gallons per minute. Shane brought an experienced crew that had worked with the Helitanker during the previous 3 operations at Bunker Hill. Erickson Air-Crane brought Ron Kraft, who played a vital role in the development of the hydroseed tank system and had been a working member of the team during two of the prior revegetation operations. This latest combination of talent, and technology allowed for unprecedented fill times averaging close to 1 minute per refill.
Pilots Jim Corey and Ed Montgomery handled the orange (green) Aircrane Helitanker with grace and skill matched only by Mike Skroch during his two previous campaigns at Bunker Hill. Corey and Montgomery were also record breakers with a confirmed amount of 132 drops of hydroseed mix in one day.
According to Shane, the revegetation process has greatly surpassed the expectations of the Army Corps of Engineers. "The (Army) Corps of Engineers was really expecting growth from only 40% of the applied mixture , but since the first hydroseed application (in 1998), we have seen 80% growth. We're all pretty happy"
Erickson Air-Crane Project manager, Stewart Edwards also seemed pleased with the progress of the operation. "To accomplish such a unique project on a tight timeline requires detailed planning and clockwork operation. This project was close to a textbook example of effective planning and logistical preparation. It was my pleasure to work with a contractor (Tri-State) and crew (Erickson) that provided nothing less than professional dedication to the job."
Erickson Air-Crane, working with Tri-State Hydroseeding Inc. of Kingston, Idaho, participated in the revegetation of 235 acres of chemically scorched hillside surrounding an abandoned silver mine.
The "Bunker Hill Revegetation Project" is a "Superfund Site" administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Army Corps of Engineers contracted
Tri-State Hydroseeding to reclaim the damaged landscape from the harmful effects of smelter exhaust caused by the silver refining processors. The exhaust combined with the atmosphere to form a concentrated acid rain which burnt the trees and shrubs in the immediate vicinity and created a highly acidic soil which prohibited growth of the native flora.
Tri-State Hydroseeding chose the S-64 Aircrane over conventional land based methods because the terrain is very steep with a highly erodable soil type. The Aircrane delivered a standard mixture of hydroseed to the steep hillside terrain with the application process itself being substantially accelerated with the high volume delivery and quick turn around times achieved with the helicopter.
The first phase involving the helicopter was the delivery of pelletized Lime to neutralize the acidity of the soil and allow for plant life to flourish. Over 1,050 tons of pelletized lime was applied in 5 days to all of the 235 acres scheduled for hydroseed application.
The "Helitanker" tank attachment, which has received worldwide attention for highly successful firefighting campaigns in Florida, Brunei, Malaysia, Canada, and Mexico came fully configured for high volume aerial hydroseeding. Refilling was accomplished from three 3,000 gallon/ 11,400 litre mixing stations placed within the optimal 1 mile radius of operation. The S-64 Helitanker coated the entire 235 acres of steep terrain with the dark green hydroseed mixture in 11 days.