Old Fellows Lawn Cemetery and Mausoleum BrightView Tree Care helicopter

BrightView Tree Care, Helicopter Remove Trees in California

Two compromised trees posed risk of significant damage to historic site and neighboring buildings

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Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery and Mausoleum Brightview Tree Care helicopter
When two compromised trees in a historic cemetery threatened to topple over and damage headstones and neighboring homes and businesses, BrightView quickly came in to remove the large trees, with the help of a helicopter.

BrightView’s work spans from beautiful landscapes and hardscapes to water features and sports venues. Sometimes, the work even takes to the air as, recently, our Tree Care team worked to remove two compromised trees via helicopter.

The recent storms in California caused historic rainfall across the state and left the grounds overly saturated. Two Deodar cedar trees in the Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery and Mausoleum, one standing around 100 feet, began to uproot from the waterlogged soil, posing a significant risk of toppling onto the neighboring businesses and homes and the graves surrounding them.

“The larger tree leaned toward Riverside Boulevard, which is the main thoroughfare in the area,” said Anthony Hunt, BrightView Tree Care Services Business Developer. “If that one fell, it would more than likely even reach the buildings on the other side of the two-lane road. With a tree that size, it would take a few days to clean it up, let alone the amount of damage it would cause, including within the cemetery itself.”

The cemetery is a historic facility with the earliest dated headstone going back to 1831, but also features an even older mass burial site of the Chinese immigrants who helped build Old Sacramento.

Knowing that the trees didn’t have long before the worst would happen, Hunt and his team secured the trees with rope, coming back to check every two days to see if it slacked or created more tension to the lines, while they weighed the different options. The usual removal process, they found, would not be viable for this job due to different elements, such as overhead wires. The last option, which proved to be the best and safest one, was to remove roughly half of each tree by helicopter.

With the plan in place, the team set about getting all the proper approvals, permits, and clearances in record time from the city and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The day before the removal, BrightView was in the tree, “weighing” each limb and branch to get to roughly 1,700 pounds, the optimal weight for the helicopter to lift the cut pieces, and marked them. When the day arrived, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District came out to de-energize the power lines, and then BrightView and the helicopter crew got to work.

“We had our climbers in the tree along with Bill Burley, a nationally recognized arborist that has done several helicopter removals, who also used the time as a training moment since removal by helicopter is such a rare occurrence,” Hunt said. “In the future, if we have something similar come up, our guys are now trained on what to do.”

After several hours of cutting and airlifting about 60 limbs to awaiting more BrightView team members on the ground to cut the pieces down smaller and put in a chipper, all that was left of the two trees were the trunks to be taken down by hand at a later time.

“It was a great day with the team,” said Scott Godfrey, BrightView Vice President & General Manager of Evergreen Northwest Tree Care Services. “Not only was the client extremely pleased with the result, but the look of pride on the faces of our team was invaluable.”

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