After Robin Hall County Park closed due to a November windstorm which fell a large amount of big trees — causing a dangerous situation to the public — BCH Peninsula Chapter member Tom Mix, left in green hat, led a Sawyer Training and Certification Day at the park. Here, members are taught techniques for using a cross-cut saw. Training also included using a chainsaw. (Photo by Donna Hollatz)

After Robin Hall County Park closed due to a November windstorm which fell a large amount of big trees — causing a dangerous situation to the public — BCH Peninsula Chapter member Tom Mix, left in green hat, led a Sawyer Training and Certification Day at the park. Here, members are taught techniques for using a cross-cut saw. Training also included using a chainsaw. (Photo by Donna Hollatz)

HORSEPLAY: Like chainsaws? Sawyer training may be for you

TRUTH BE TOLD, I’m a bit fearful when we’re faced with freezingly cold, strong, gusty winds blowing in off the ocean from the west. I fear the destruction it can cause in the form of falling trees crashing down upon barns, homes and cars; occasionally even killing the animals and people inside. Admittedly, I’m probably over reacting because that rarely happens.

More often falling debris from windstorms is just a nuisance when it block trails and roads, or causes power outages. Unless it happens when it’s accompanied by low temperatures, because wind chill factors can cause 40 degrees to feel like 30 degrees or colder. And I do not like it when my fingers go numb while I’m feeding the horses or filling up their water troughs.

And I’m sure everyone prefers not to experience freezing temperature inside their own home during a prolonged power outage. There I go again, thinking about worst case scenarios. It is the reason why, however, I have a wood burning stove. Oh, how I love a good hot crackling fire in my wood stove that radiates heat to warm my insides and my home!

Park closure

For those who haven’t heard Robin Hill County Park closed in November after a windstorm left a substantial tree blowdown left its trail system unsafe and impassable. Hopefully the park will reopen to the public later this month.

Much of the work involved in clearing those fallen trees off the trails involves the use of chainsaws. Thus, Back Country Horsemen Peninsula Chapter member Tom Mix saw it as a good opportunity to offer sawyer training and certification to its members, as well as others involved in working on state owned and public lands.

Want to learn how to safely use a chainsaw? You may not know this but local Back Country Horsemen chapters — Peninsula, Buckhorn Range and Mt. Olympus — offer sawyer training and certification to its members. Many members take an active part in helping to clear downed trees and rubble from trails on public lands, including those at Miller Peninsula State Park, DNR lands, Jamestown S’Klallam lands, Clallam County Trails, Olympic National Forest, and Olympic National Park, after windstorms, to the benefit of all trail users. Trained sawyers are essential to keeping trails open and it is often difficult to find places where these skills can be taught and practiced.

As the Sawyer Certification Specialist for the Peninsula Chapt. Tom quickly contacted Don Crawford, at Clallam County and, because the BCHW saw program is highly regarded and BCHW has a great working relationship with the county, he was given permission to use the fallen timber at Robin Hill for sawyer evaluation purposes. Working in coordination with a commercial logger, who is doing the salvage work at Robin Hill, the BCHW group was allowed into the park on Jan. 23 for a day of sawyer training.

Sawyer candidates receive classroom training on basic use and safety, then are accompanied into the field to demonstrate and hone the skills they need to safely cut up and remove downed trees. They learn situational bucking because there are unforeseen hazards involved with some fallen trees. The array of fallen trees at Robin Hill presented almost all the dangerous situations a sawyer might encounter while doing trail work.

Sawyers certified by BCHW must re-test and demonstrate their skills every 3 years for recertification. The saw program is designed to meet all Forest Service requirements. Forest Service saw programs are currently being revised with a goal to create, “The Thinking Sawyer.”

Peninsula Chapter of BCHW greatly appreciated the opportunity to use this salvage site for our educational purposes. I’d like to thank Peninsula Chapter member Donna Hollatz for sending me information about the chapter’s certification program and work at Robin Hill Park.

For more information about the Peninsula Chapter visit www.pbchw.org.

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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