BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- --
The 9th Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and heavy equipment, more affectionately known as Dirt Boyz, often perform various forms of construction on base. One aspect of their job many people don’t know about is tree maintenance.
The unit actually started a large tree maintenance project on Nov. 26 near the Three Bridges area. The project, which is scheduled to last until Jan. 1, 2019, will be a daily undertaking for teams of up to six people.
“We are going to go in and do a clearing of the larger trees and the brush,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Welsh, 9th CES pavements and heavy equipment technician. “There are roughly 30 to 50 large trees. The trees vary from the size of a 50 gallon drum to the size of a coffee can.”
Downing even one tree is time consuming, but the team has a process to help speed up the clearing of the area.
“We cut down the tree and get the bulk of it on the ground,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Carlsen, 9th CES pavements and heavy equipment technician. “Then we chop off the limbs into a manageable size so we can get them into the dump truck and truck them away.”
According to Welsh, the Dirt Boyz do almost all of the tree maintenance on the base and do so with a large inventory of equipment.
“A majority of the time we use chainsaws that come in a variety of sizes,” Welsh said. “We also utilize a wood chipper to chip up all of the brush, and a stump grinder to grind the stump down to below ground.”
With all of the equipment the shop uses, safety is paramount and there are a variety of precautions the team utilizes to ensure everyone goes home whole.
“We follow the common sense rule of if it looks like it might be a problem it is probably a problem,” Carlsen said. “We make sure everyone knows when and where the tree is coming down. We also makes sure we have proper gear. We have hard hats, ear protection, steel toe boots, gloves, and chaps.”