A bit of living history is on display at Bridle Trails State Park in Bellevue, where a volunteer horse logger is helping to protect Seattle’s electricity supply.
Wes Gustafson, owner of The Wood ‘n Horse Company in Snohomish, is using a team of Belgian and Shire horses to skid logs up to 20 inches in diameter along the City Light transmission line corridor to the horse arena at the park, located immediately west of 124th Avenue NE, south of NE 60th Street.
“It’s an opportunity to show people that there’s more to logs than just firewood,” he said.
Gustafson started work Saturday, Oct. 5, and expects to finish the job Sunday, Oct. 6. “It goes at horse pace,” he said.
The Douglas fir and maple logs Gustafson is moving and milling were recently cut down by Seattle City Light after being identified as having structural defects or for being situated too close to the lines to responsibly trim. Under federal regulations, City Light is required to maintain its transmission line corridors to prevent trees from contacting and damaging the high-voltage lines.
Bridle Trails Park Ranger Mary Wellborn said the decision to bring Gustafson in to process the logs included an opportunity to provide an engaging educational experience for the public. .
“Wes previously brought his horses to the Bridle Trails Parks Centennial Celebration at Ben Franklin Elementary School in March, and he put on a demonstration showing how the horses do their work,” Wellborn said. “When the trees had to be cut, we thought it this approach would offer a great interpretive opportunity.”
“This is a great opportunity to work with the park and Wes to protect City Light’s transmission lines from hazard trees that could have fallen while also protecting the park’s forested recreation opportunities,” City Light Vegetation Management Manager Brent Schmidt said.
Bridle Trails has a long history with Seattle City Light. The utility acquired a power line right of way from the state Department of Natural Resources in 1928, before the land was set aside for a park, and built a transmission line in 1936. In 2008, Washington State Parks and City Light signed an agreement to perform periodic cutting and trimming near the lines.
Bridle Trails State Park is a popular equestrian park three miles north of Bellevue. The park has a variety of equestrian trails and horse shows. The demonstration is taking place at the power line arena. To access the site from 60th Avenue, walk south on the transmission line corridor. The work is scheduled to begin at about 10 a.m. and continue through the day.
For more information about Bridle Trails State Park, visit the Washington State parks and Recreation Commission web site, at http://www.parks.wa.gov. or the Bridle Trails Foundation site at http:/www.bridletrails.org.
For information about Wes Gustafson’s horse logging company, visit http://theworkinghorse.com/
For information about City Light’s vegetation management policies, visit http://www.seattle.gov/light/vegetation/
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.