T&D News 2008 Number 2

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The Scoop on Flying Fish

This is a picture of a net used to prevent fish from being picked up when helicopters are dipping. The net is hexagon shaped and has a 15 foot wide opening on top to allow helicopter access. It resembles a cup which when dropped in the water will fill up but not allow fish to enter.When firefighting helicopters are dipping water from lakes or ponds, fish or their eggs might get scooped up by mistake. If water bodies have threatened or endangered aquatic species, helicopter operations might be restricted to reduce the risk.

The San Dimas Technology and Development Center has developed a floating fish strainer (net) that a helicopter can lower into a lake or pond. The net has openings no larger than 3/32 of an inch, meeting requirements of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service.

Once the net is in place, a helicopter can dip its bucket or lower a snorkel into the net with the assurance that no fish or eggs are inside.

The net's opening is 15 feet in diameter to allow large helicopter buckets to dip from it. The net is 10 feet deep, so snorkels can be lowered without hitting the net's bottom, even when the pilot doesn't have an easy way of judging depth. The net weighs just 420 pounds, allowing it to be carried by a light helicopter.

A special retrieval system allows a helicopter to lift the net from the lake and carry it back to shore after it's no longer needed.

The tech tip "Helicopter Fish Strainer" (0851–1302P–SDTDC) includes detailed information about the net and drawings of the deployment and retrieval system.

For additional information, contact David Haston, project leader (phone: 909-599-1294, ext. 294; e-mail: dhaston@fs.fed.us).

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