T&D News 2008 Number 2

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Heli-Claw Delivers the Mulch

Areas severely burned by wildland fires may be subject to erosion unless mulch is applied. The experimental MTDC heli-claw may make large-scale erosion control projects safer and more efficient. "The Heli-Claw: A New Way To Transport Mulch for Erosion Control" (0851–2323–MTDC) describes how a 10- by 10-foot set of hydraulically powered steel jaws, suspended on a 100-foot steel longline beneath a helicopter, can be used to pick up, transport, and disperse up to a ton of straw or similar material without requiring ground crewmembers to work underneath the helicopter.

Flight tests were conducted in 2007. View the flight tests at http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/videos/flash/08512C01/ (Username: t-d, Password: t-d). Because shredded wood may do a better job of erosion control than straw, the heli-claw was also designed so it can pick up and drop shredded wood. Field tests in 2008 indicated the concept is sound, but design changes are needed to make the heli-claw more reliable and effective.

The SDTDC tech tip "Helimulching—Equipment and Techniques" (0757–1305P–SDTDC) discusses the current best practices and provides technical guidance for aerial mulching projects.

For additional information on the heli-claw, contact Tim Lynch, project leader (phone: 406-329-3958; e-mail: tlynch@fs.fed.us).

This image contains two images. The first one is a picture of the heli-claw suspended in air and full of mulching material. The second image shows a helicopter flying with the heli-claw haning far below.

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