Millcreek Canyon to reopen after 100 power poles removed for wildfire prevention

Nov 10, 2022, 5:10 PM | Updated: May 21, 2023, 4:38 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Millcreek Canyon has been closed to the public for two days as Rocky Mountain Power wraps up a project to reduce wildfire risk. Crews have been working to bury the power lines in the canyon since May.

Millcreek Canyon attracts plenty of people every day of the year, for hiking, cross-country skiing, and family fun. There are also cabins in the canyon, a camp, and neighborhoods at the mouth. A wildfire could be catastrophic and deadly, which is the main reason the power company decided to bury the lines.

Thursday, they used a helicopter to fly linemen into inaccessible power poles to be removed. The lineman cut down the poles, which were hoisted away to clean up zones where they were chopped up and thrown into dumpsters.

“We’re looking at how do we make communities safer. How do we harden our infrastructure, and at the same time ensure that we still have reliability, and service to our customers,” said Jona Whitesides, a Rocky Mountain Power Spokesperson.

Historically, high winds have blown through the canyon, which has plenty of fuel to burn.

Millcreek powerpole to be removed

A power pole stands in Millcreek Canyon where it will be removed as an effort to reduce fire danger. (KSL TV)

“Winds are typically our biggest risk for pushing an object, tree limb, branch, other type of object into the powerline and causing a fire,” Whitesides said.

That’s why Rocky Mountain Power buried the power lines under the edge of the road which was later repaved.

“The power has gone underground now, feeding all of the homes and businesses up here,” said, Chris Way, a district manager with Sturgeon Electric Company, which was contracted to do the work.

“It’s safer for the canyon because if winds start blowing, wires come together, you get sparks which can cause wildfires which is the whole point of this program.”

“As we have seen more intense and extreme wildfire events in the west over the last few years, these are some of the best practices that PacifiCorp and Rocky Mountain Power have taken based upon what other regional utilities have been doing,” said Whitesides.

It’s an investment Rocky Mountain Power made to upgrade its infrastructure. They’re doing similar work in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and elsewhere in the state.

“We’re just trying to get way ahead of the curve before it even becomes an issue,” said Whitesides.

The main line is done. Next spring they will bury lines extending off of the mainline.

The canyon will be open to the public again Friday.

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Millcreek Canyon to reopen after 100 power poles removed for wildfire prevention