Clearing blowdowns

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One of the most basic trailwork tasks is that of removing fallen trees (aka blowdowns) from the trail. Removing these sylvan menaces is an ongoing task that requires various tools depending on the size of the offending tree. These instructions assume that you are prepared to eliminate trees of any size from the trail (i.e. chainsaw capabilities).

Supplies Needed:

  • Chainsaw (one of the lighter saws, like a Husquavarna 345, works best)

o Make sure it's sharp before you use it, and return it sharp

  • Chainsaw accessories:

o Files and file guide o Spare fuel and bar oil o Scrench o Wedges

  • Safety Gear:

o Chaps o Helmet & face shield

    • Gloves
  • Axe (always take an ax if you take a chainsaw)
  • Optional: Bow saw, Pruning saw, loppers

How to do it:

Even if you can't use a chainsaw, experience with saws and axes can accomplish a lot on the trail! Smaller blowdowns can be removed using saws, in order to save time and gas. Try leading a blowdown-clearing hike without a chainsaw, and depending on the severity (& size) of the blowdowns encountered, future chainsaw trips can head out to finish the job.

If there is a lot to be done, however, larger blowdowns can taste the bitter wrath of the chainsaw. The greatest difficulty is cutting through trees in such a way that they don't pinch or bind the chainsaw; look at the situation carefully to make sure you know which side of the tree is in tension and which is in compression. If you're not sure, and you're afraid of a tree falling on you or springing into you, leave it -- you can always come back later when it's fallen or rotted more.

Otherwise, cut carefully and watch the cut closely for signs of compression or tension. If you do get bound, use wedges or the axe to carefully free the chain from the cut.

Tips for using chainsaws on blowdowns:

- Always travel with other experienced sawyers

- "Clean up" the area before you make a big cut - remove smaller branches & limbs to make sure the area you work in is clear and safe

- Always wear protective gear

- Trees are tricky nemeses; if your saw gets bound, use wedges to help!