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National Crosscut and Chainsaw Program

The National Crosscut and Chainsaw Program was created to train smart volunteer and professional sawyers across the nation.

photo credit: Pexels

Sawyers are vital to the trail world, as they are responsible for sawing timber, clearing brush and tripping hazards, and more. Such an important job requires well trained and responsible sawyers. The United States Forest Service (USFS) created the National Crosscut and Chainsaw Program to help train and certify sawyers for trail work.

Trail crews have shrunk in size over the last several years, and often only consist of 4 – 5 people, making it difficult to keep up with trail maintenance. Part of tackling this issue is certifying volunteer sawyers, and additionally training trail stewards to be able to train others in the field. This model allows for sawyer training to be available to people across the nation, and critically, allows the establishment of sawyer training opportunities outside of the traditional cadre of USFS trainers. This builds our nation's capacity by including skilled sawyer trainers working in nonprofits, volunteer groups, and for profit companies.

As the Forest Service explains, “The new Forest Service saw policy directs the use of chainsaws and crosscut saws on National Forest System lands. Forest Service employees, volunteers, partners, and other cooperators can now access consistent training, evaluation, and certification.”

The USFS website specifies the Sawyer Certification Levels available.

Forest Service employees, volunteers, partners, and cooperators can obtain 4 levels of certification for chainsaw and crosscut saw operation under the new saw policy:

  1. Sawyer trainee
  2. A Sawyer
  3. B Sawyer
  4. C Sawyer

The USFS website also announced, “New crosscut and chainsaw training modules will be available soon. The module-based training focuses on ‘Developing a Thinking Sawyer’ and emphasizes risk management, human factors, and sawyer safety. Forest Service sawyers can still attend approved training courses until the new program is finalized.”

Published March 2021

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