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Helicopter Used To Remove 60 Palm Trees From Tierrasanta Canyon

Environmental Rescue At Tierrasanta's Shepard Canyon

Tierrasanta’s Shepard Canyon was pierced by the sound of a loud Huey helicopter for several hours on Monday morning.

The chopper was working with city of San Diego crews to remove nearly 60 palm trees from the bottom of the ecologically fragile canyon.

Roberta Froome, who works with the Friends of Tierrasanta Canyons, said invasive species, including palm trees, can take over a canyon.


"They can really cluster closely," Froome said. "In past years, they've gone in mechanically with people cutting the trees and then trying to get them out by truck. This is an operation with amazing surgical precision."

The airlift left a much lighter footprint. The helicopter crew swooped into the canyon and used a 100-foot long rope to carry the palm trees that were cut down last weekend. Once the trees were securely attached, the chopper hoisted them out of the canyon and dumped them at a nearby school.

Blackhawk Helicopters helped remove the trees. Eric Verkouteren, who works with Blackhawk, said the operation looks more dangerous than it is.

“There is risk in what we do but we do this all the time," Verkouteren said. "This is our daily routine. And we’re professional in what we do.”

The project cost about $35,000 dollars with money coming from several grants.


Friends of Tierrasanta Canyons works monthly to remove invasive plants like eucalyptus and palm trees. Froome said that not everyone was happy with the palm tree removal project but the project will make room for natural species.

"We are trying to do habitat restoration. As well as habitat preservation.” She added getting the palm trees out of the canyon creates room for the natural species.