Although almost all of the humans have left Berkeley Lab’s main site, the wildlife has not. The turkeys, deer, and other creatures are roaming the hillside, while the trees, shrubs, grass, and weeds continue to grow. That keeps Berkeley Lab landscaper Tien Huynh a busy man.
Huynh and three other landscapers continue to come to work each day while the Lab is in standby mode – although in staggered shifts so that only one person is in the break room at a time – to help maintain the 202-acre Lab site and clear growth for fire control.
It’s a job that Huynh loves. “I’ve been doing this for 32 years,” he said. “We’re outdoors all day. I don’t like being inside too much. I like to move around, keep busy.”
The four landscapers, including Oliver Ducommun, Kat Bedford, and Sau Pham, are performing an essential function. “The primary goal right now is to keep ahead of all of the pine needles and branches that fall and to get ahead of the weeds for the upcoming fire season,” said supervisor Jon Cleveland of the Facilities Division. “This time of year is when things really start to grow so we need to stay on top of it before it gets out of control.”
Without all the people on-site, one thing that’s easier, Huynh said, is that he can use his leaf blower and other noisy equipment whenever he wants. “That’s why we do it early in the morning, but now I can do it any time because nobody is around,” he said.
Another thing that’s easier is his commute, which would normally be a drive of 35 to 40 minutes. “Now it’s only 15 minutes,” he said. “I’ve never seen that before in my life. Unbelievable.”