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UVM Program Review (Chelan County Public Power District)

The Situation

Vegetation management is a major expense for utilities, often accounting for one-third of all their operational expenses. The expenditures are justified because trees often cause safety and service reliability risks. Most important for Chelan is the potential threat trees play in causing catastrophic fire storms. One of the difficulties associated with vegetation management is that it requires a long-term perspective. Trees grow relentlessly, and deferring work increases expenditures as the tree inventory builds, and, as they grow, produce increasing biomass that inflates cost.

Chelan was in need of a team of vegetation management professionals to review their program and provide options that would enhance and improve the efficacy and quality of their operations.

Our Solution

Eocene‘s review of Chelan’s vegetation management program was twofold in order to characterize Chelan’s utility forest, identify constraining issues, describe opportunities for improvement, and lay the foundation to formulate three separate budget recommendations, all with an emphasis on mitigating the threats of tree-power line caused wildfire and to increase Chelan’s vegetation management efficiency.

1. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis.

2. Field vegetation survey.

Identify Objectives

The program review objectives were to:

  • Evaluate Chelan’s vegetation management department structure, procedures, systems and resources.
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis of Chelan’s utility vegetation management (UVM) program.
  • Compare UVM departmental operations, systems and resources to peer utilities, with an emphasis on identifying best practices.
  • Determine Chelan’s UVM workload and characterize its utility forest through a sample forest survey.
  • Provide program enhancement recommendations including management structure, staffing levels, standard operating procedures, specifications, cycle lengths, contract structures and other considerations, particularly in the context of fire risk.

Conducted a SWOT Analysis

Eocene began by reviewing background information provided by Chelan’s vegetation management program manager. The evaluation compared program goals, strategies, structure, planning, and implementation to industry best practices. Cycle achievements were reviewed, including the amount of reactive work along with integrated vegetation management, including pruning, removals, herbicide and mechanical work. Eocene reviewed data collection, record keeping and analysis, and fire mitigation reports, and then conducted a random sample of over one percent of their distribution system and two percent of its transmission miles.

The program review included a SWOT analysis that involved input and synergy from Chelan’s key internal stakeholders, including the vegetation management program manager, along with representatives from operations, legal, work planning, risk and other departments. The analysis identified their overriding threat as the possibility of catastrophic, power line caused wildfires.

Performed a Field Vegetation Survey

Eocene conducted a field vegetation survey based on a random sample of Chelan’s distribution system and transmission mileage, all using the FieldNote software on iPads. Data captured included diameter at breast heigh (DBH), species, tree conditions, height, maintenance requirements, tree removal candidates, risk trees, tree locations and more.

Chelan County Public Utility District (Chelan PUD) is a public utility district delivering clean, renewable, low-cost energy to local residents and to other utilities that serve millions of residents of the Pacific Northwest, with a mission to enhance the quality of life in Chelan County by providing sustainable, reliable utility services.

  • A comprehensive vegetation management program review conducted by Eocene Environmental Group for Chelan PUD, complete with a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis and field vegetation survey.
  • Three options were proposed on how to manage their budget, all with the focus of enhancing Chelan’s vegetation management program to address and improve their operational efficacy and quality.

Eocene proposed three vegetation management budgetary choices and provided the advantages and disadvantages of each. Specific results of the program review are unique and proprietary to Chelan’s vegetation program.


budgetary recommendations proposed

Over 40 years

of combined experience involved


trees included in the study


total plots of land inventoried

Learn More About the Eocene Environmental Group Team/

Eocene has an experienced and passionate team of biologists, archaeologists, environmental planners, foresters, arborists, agronomists, animal scientists, sustainability risk specialists, software developers and engineers. Check out the “Our People” page to learn more about our team.

Our People