US Forestry Chainsaw Certification

This past weekend I attended the US Forestry Service (USFS) chainsaw certification class/workshop in Blairsville, GA. This class was recommended to me by David so that we would have more trail volunteers capable (certified) to do more maintenance. This class was Free from the USFS and a volunteer, FOR volunteers.

In attendance was 1 new USFS employee, 6 Appalachian Trail volunteers, and 9 local Mt bike volunteers – in attendance was Mike Palmeri, Joe Palmeri, Todd Lyons, Seth Owens, Jason Brousche, Tony Stevens, Gary Monk, Jim Townsend and myself.

Forestry Morning Meeting

On the Forestry side, it became obvious that (as you can expect) these guys are overwhelmed with the amount of land that they have to maintain, manage. They are thankful for the volunteers. The USFS in their efforts to gain assistance, while volunteering, a certified sawyer is considered an employee of the USFS and falls under their insurance. They said to date, that no one has needed to take them up on the offer of the insurance, and hope no one would need too.
Oak slice

Side Note: For those of you that don’t know, each Spring/Summer I cut & Split 3-4 cords of firewood for my Mom to heat her house all Winter. So, going into this class I felt quite confident, but was also hoping to fill in some areas of my knowledge. Well, it was pretty shocking that having someone that is basically grading you and hanging over your shoulder as you work made me more nervous than I would have expected. Suddenly, I’m not out there doing things my way & just my dog watching. But still I was able to attain ‘B’ cert. or the 2nd level of certification.

Getting Instructions

One of the greatest things that I learned from the class was Safety! Of course, working with chainsaws is Dangerous – period! The moment you relax and/or get ahead of yourself is when you will get hurt.

They are insistent that you use the brake on the chainsaw. This was something I wasn’t used to – heck, only 1 of my 3 chainsaws even has a brake on it.

Speaking of Safety, 1 of the things they were insistent on was a pair of chaps – and this is why:

Since most of what trail volunteers deal with is blow-downs (trees that the wind knocked over) they showed us how to best cut that tree with out getting your saw stuck, which is very easy to do & also dangerous.

How to properly cut a tree to better control which way the log goes once it has been cut.

How to maintain more control over a tree that has been blown down on the trail.

Dawg demonstrating a leaner cut

Another great technique was how to deal with Spring trees – these are trees that the tops got pulled over by another tree and the trunk is still rooted, but the top of the tree is pulled over & down. They are a dangerous situation, because the force of the tree wants to ‘spring’ it back up.

How you approach a situation where multiple trees are down and you need to clear the trail. Access the situation from all angles – and do some limbing if you need to get a better understanding of where to start.

How to determine the amount of lean a standing Tree has. This will determine which direction a tree naturally wants to fall, and what it would take to make it drop in a different direction if needed.

Since I do cut firewood & have to cut down dead trees I learned a ‘felling’ technique that I am anxious to try out.

Here is an example of a compound tree that I cut up for firewood. Notice it has a ‘Spring tree’ on the right, and that it is a compound situation where the downed tree is interlocked with the standing tree. It was a tricky situation to say the least.
Compound Fell Tree

Again, remember taking your time for safety and accessing the situation are the 2 greatest points – we are volunteers out there and in some situations even the Pro’s have to walk away.

Also, if you ride Mt bike trails – you should volunteer, if you are good with chainsaws, this class was Free from the USFS and volunteers, FOR volunteers.

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