Chainsaws and Horsemen
It has long been a source of frustration for KSC members that we can't take our chainsaws and do some serious work cleaning up the trails before winter comes, but that's USFS policy: you need to be officially certified as a sawyer by the USFS in order to bring out the big guns. So Tim Becker of the Central Cascades Winter Recreation Association went in search of a solution and found an official USFS sawyer certification course run by the Back Country Horsemen of Washington, in conjunction with Washington Trails and DNR.
That course was held last Sunday at a campground near Mount Rainier. A good number of people (okay, all men-people) attended, including eight KSC members: Don Brooks, Joe Seemiller, Jim Slyfield, Frank Harris, Chris Fast, Jeff Clark, Kyle Capizzi, and Doug (whose last name I don't know). All of them passed, and all of them are now qualified to take their chainsaws to trees that are down or leaning (but not standing) on USFS land. This will be a huge help in keeping ski trails open for the grooming crews to work their magic, and we all will be singing their praises this winter!
I asked Jeff for some inside scoop on how the day went. He said the attendees were broken into small groups of three or four, plus a Horseman instructor, and spent the whole day learning about the safe and effective use of chainsaws and crosscut saws. All of the instructors had extensive experience in the woods and clearly knew their way around a chainsaw! The focus was on safety, and it was a day of hands-on practice as well as learning. Jeff said the instructor of his small group told them the class would be a test of their knowledge and abilities as much as an opportunity for teaching, and the instructor made a point of correcting unsafe or inefficient practices that he observed as they went along chopping up things. By the end of the day, there was a nice stack of firewood ready for the campground!
The Horsemen were perfect hosts; they provided snacks and water for everyone, and had extra chainsaws and gas for those who needed it. At the end of the day, they gave all the attendees a 20-page written manual for future reference. The Horsemen did all of this at no cost, so the attendees from KSC are recommending that the club make a donation to their organization in appreciation for a well-spent day that will benefit all of us.
A big thank you to Tim for setting this up, to the Horsemen for making it happen, and to everyone who attended and earned their certification.