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Klapton
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 12:31 pm 
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RandyHiker wrote:
IdahoHyker wrote:
Yes, I also know people/outfitters/guides/wilderness users that would do the work for free, IF THEY WERE ALLOWED TO DO SO WITHOUT FEAR OF REPRISAL.  So we could essentially not only get the trails opened, we could get the job done for much less money, by professionals that would actually enjoy taking their pack animals into the wilderness and spending their time opening trails.  Backcountry Horsemen do this on their own dime all the time, in areas where chain saws are allowed.

I'm certain that commercial outfitters would be more than willing to clear trails of deadfall with a chainsaw so they can efficiently access their camps and provide an easier riding experience for their paying customers.    They could also clear the trails using non-motorized equipment.   The non-motorized option doesn't require any change in USFS policy or practices and provides more employment for the commercial outfitters paid staff.

So what purpose does allowing chainsaws and other motorized equipment serve ?  Making a commercial operation more profitable ?

Easier, faster, and more efficient aren't enough?  Must there be some other naughty motive?
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RandyHiker
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 12:40 pm 
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Ski wrote:
RandyHiker wrote:
Making a commercial operation more profitable ?

and... there's something wrong with that? unless I'm mistaken the whole idea of "commercial operation" is to make a profit.

Nothing is wrong with making a profit -- but we are talking about "Wilderness Areas" -- where "preservation" is a higher goal than "making a profit".

If "making a profit" was the goal -- then timber sales would have continued and there would be logging roads and clearcuts in a lot more places.

Ski wrote:
RandyHiker wrote:
"...there are some commercial operations that are not acting as good stewards..."

there are some hikers who are not acting as good stewards. there are some airplane pilots who aren't acting as good stewards. there are some Chinese-Philippino sous chefs who aren't acting as good stewards.

Right -- given the USFS limited resources for enforcement -- I'd rather that a ranger need only intercept chainsaws at trailheads -- rather than having to police "correct chainsaw usage within wilderness" over millions of acres.

Remember the flap over North Cascades Heli Skiing illegal cutting ?  Why would we want open a similar can-o-worms?
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Token Civilian
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 1:16 pm 
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Chainsaws & other power tools like brush saws have their place.

Wilderness isn't it.

I was recently at a meeting with the Mt Baker - Snoqualmie Forest trails folks.  For my own education, I inquired as to what it would take to get a waiver to use chainsaws in Wilderness (say compared to using a helicopter).  Their (USFS) response indicates that it would be FAR more difficult to justify chainsaw vis-a-vis helicopter.  I guess it comes down to the fact that crosscuts are in fact the "minimum" required tool and are in fact a completely viable non-motorized alternative to chainsaws.  That they take more time, it would appear, doesn't play into the decision making.

I'll say it again - I'm of the opinion that power tools have their place.....outside of Wilderness.  The local PCTA volunteer crew uses them extensively on those miles where we can, so as to minimize the hours it takes on those miles.  We can then dedicate those hours to Wilderness.

I'll add that from a practical perspective, power tools aren't always the panacea.  My crew cleared a 10' diameter root ball from the trail in the Glacier Peak Wilderness this season.  It took ~25 minutes to cut the ~29" cedar that the root ball used to support....and a day+ of prep before the cut and a few hours of pushing and prying post cut to move said root ball off the trail.  A chainsaw would have saved us.....20 minutes in the better part of 2 days of work in that case.

Then there is the logistics of getting a sufficiently large chainsaw deep into the back country.  I can throw a crosscut big enough to deal with 4-6' old growth over the shoulder and extra handle in the pack and carry it for 20-30-40 miles while working a section of trail.  Less so with a chainsaw that could handle equal size timber, the fuel, oil, spare bar, spare chain (other items for a saw crew being equal - Pulaski, axe, wedges, etc).

Each tool has it's place.  I'm pretty handy with both, but no....I don't support opening up Wilderness to power tools.  That's too slippery of a slope to step on IMO.
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RandyHiker
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 2:15 pm 
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^^^+1

treeswarper wrote:
Ummm, Randy, you're thinking way too hard on this.

Occupational hazard.
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 2:35 am 
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RandyHiker wrote:
Nothing is wrong with making a profit -- but we are talking about "Wilderness Areas" -- where "preservation" is a higher goal than "making a profit".

Please cite the language in the Wilderness Act that prohibits making a profit.

RandyHiker wrote:
If "making a profit" was the goal -- then timber sales would have continued and there would be logging roads and clearcuts in a lot more places.

And we all know there are all kinds of logging roads and clearcuts in designated wilderness areas, right? dizzy.gif

Token Civilian raises some valid points regarding the pros and cons of chainsaw vs. crosscut - outside of the noise, the biggest difference is the total weight of the equipment, which is substantial. As for the time savings - his "only 20 minutes" - I'd posit that depends upon who's running the saw and how good they are at figuring out how to make the cut without getting killed.

Again: In over 50 years of hiking the same trail, and encountering trail crews innumerable times during my visits up there, I have yet to hear the sound of a chainsaw running up in ONP. (Other than the DNR operation on the other side of the ridge in the early 1990s - noted in a "Letter to the editor" in an old issue of WTA's "Signpost" magazine.)

What part of "deep forest muffles sound" is difficult to understand?

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RodF
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 4:03 am 
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jinx'sboy wrote:
"Wilderness Areas" referred to in the Wilderness Act are exactly the same, for purposes of definition, and for discussion about motorized and mechanized uses, regardless of agency; NPS, USFS, BLM, USFWS are the same.

The NPS, as a matter of POLICY, has chosen to interpret the "minimum necessary for administration" differently than the FS.

jinx'sboy wrote:
I was trying to point out how each agency, as shown by how the FS and NPS already interpret the Wild Act, chooses to interpret the prohibition on motorized and mechanized use.  Each agency has widely different ways of deciding (i.e. making policy) re: how motorized use does or does not agree with Sec 4C in the Act;  "....except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for administration of the area..."
One agency regularly allows use of motors and mechanized things.  The other does not, except very infrequently.  It is a matter of differing policy, since both are governed by the same law.

Both agencies are governed not only by one single law, but by multiple quite different and sometimes competing laws, and are charged with finding a way to harmoniously comply with all on them.

Notably, the NPS Organic Act of 1916 requires NPS promote the use of national parks for the use and enjoyment of the people, and the Wilderness Act section 4(a)(3) declares that it shall not lower the standards of protection provided by that Act.  So while all Wilderness areas administered by all agencies shall be devoted to the public purpose of recreational use (Wilderness Act section 4(b)), the stronger mandate Congress placed on NPS to promote recreation requires NPS place a higher priority on trails than USFS does.

The same sections place a stronger mandate on NPS than on USFS to preserve historic value, thus require NPS to place a higher priority on preserving historic sites within Wilderness than USFS does.

Agency policies differ because the legal mandates applied to each agency differ.  We cannot read only one section of one law and call it quits, but read every section of it... and indeed read every law.

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RodF
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 4:55 am 
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Malachai Constant wrote:
I have been on a lot of work parties and cutting dead falls is not the big time consumer. The cutting is done by two or three people who are trained in the use of saws. The time consuming part is the digging and raking Pulaski and hoe work. Just like a couple fellers can clear cut an acre in hours. It is the branching, bucking and yarding that takes time.

I find this anecdotal report rather amazing.

In preparation for its Wilderness Stewardship Plan, Olympic NP did a study of this.  They counted the number and size of windfall cleared by two crosscut crews and by two chainsaw crews working for three weeks clearing about 250 windfall off 15 miles of the Duckabush Trail (an eastside trail where average trees are about 1 foot diameter).  The crosscut crews required 3 times the manhours to accomplish the same work as the chainsaw crews.

They estimated that on westside trails (where trees are 2 to 5 foot diameter), the ratio would be 5 to 1.

Olympic NP manages to maintain between 350 and 450 miles of its 610 mile trail system each year.  If it used crosscut saws, it would only be able to maintain about 100 miles each year.

What is the minimum tool necessary for administration of the area as Wilderness?  If trails are necessary, we have an answer.

The question is whether trails are necessary.

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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jinx'sboy
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 6:53 am 
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RodF wrote:


Notably, the NPS Organic Act of 1916 requires NPS promote the use of national parks for the use and enjoyment of the people, and the Wilderness Act section 4(a)(3) declares that it shall not lower the standards of protection provided by that Act.  So while all Wilderness areas administered by all agencies shall be devoted to the public purpose of recreational use (Wilderness Act section 4(b)), the stronger mandate Congress placed on NPS to promote recreation requires NPS place a higher priority on trails than USFS does.

The same sections place a stronger mandate on NPS than on USFS to preserve historic value, thus require NPS to place a higher priority on preserving historic sites within Wilderness than USFS does.

I would agree that the NPS does have a slightly different, maybe not even stronger, mandate as does the FS, when it comes to historical preservation in wilderness.

However, both agencies mission, and underlying laws, specifically require attention to public use, recreation and trails, so I am not sure how you can conclude that Congress "requires" that the Park Service place a higher priority on trails.  The  NPS does enjoy a higher level of funding across the board when it comes to visitors and facilities; on a per mile of trail, per visitor or per acre basis the funding for Parks is higher.   I don't think that translates to any over-riding difference in agency mission with regard to wilderness.

Lastly, recreation is only part of the reason wilderness areas are created, not the sole reason, as stated in 2c of the Act.
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DIYSteve
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 7:53 am 
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RodF wrote:
Notably, the NPS Organic Act of 1916 requires NPS promote the use of national parks for the use and enjoyment of the people, and the Wilderness Act section 4(a)(3) declares that it shall not lower the standards of protection provided by that Act.

The term "protection" does not appear in Section 4(3) of the Wilderness Act. The term "standard" in that subsection appears in the clause "standards evolved for the use and preservation of the [National Park, National monument or other NPS unit]."

The relevant language:

.  .  .  the the designation of any area of any [national] park, [national] monument, or other unit of the national park system as a wilderness area pursuant to this Act shall in no manner lower the standards evolved for the use and preservation of the [national] park, [national] monument, or other unit of the national park system in accordance with the [1916] Act.  .  .  .
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RandyHiker
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 8:18 am 
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Ski wrote:
RandyHiker wrote:
If "making a profit" was the goal -- then timber sales would have continued and there would be logging roads and clearcuts in a lot more places.

And we all know there are all kinds of logging roads and clearcuts in designated wilderness areas, right? dizzy.gif

I'll spell it out -- if "making a profit" was the goal -- the "Wilderness Act" wouldn't have been passed and there would be many more roads and clearcuts in areas that are now protected.
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Malachai Constant
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 9:47 am 
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My experience is in the Cascades not the Olympics where I know they use chainsaws. huh.gif

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Token Civilian
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 10:20 am 
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Big Steve et al:

If you notice, I said power tools aren't ALWAYS the panacea.  The example tree I cited is one where the work was in the prep and removal, not the cutting.  For many other trees, the time is, in fact, in the cutting.  The one next to the example tree (in fact, the one that knocked that darn root ball on the trail) was a ~42" hem / fir.  That took all day to clear.  About 1/2 time for prep, 1/2 for the actual cutting.  We would have saved about 3 hours of crew time with a suitably large chainsaw - faster cutting and less prep would have been required.

If you also notice I also say we use chainsaws extensively outside of Wilderness.  Why on that latter point?  Because in many circumstances they're the superior tool for the job.  This year, on my adopted section there were about 25 trees down on a 1 mile section of old growth south of Snoqualmie, the first jack straw pile about 1/4 mile from a road so carrying in the gear wasn't that big of a deal (had they been 3 miles from the closest road....well, I would have wanted a bigger crew to share the load).  4 of us with 2 chainsaws cleared them all in a day.  With crosscuts it would have taken......a lot longer shall we say.

RodF - I don't thing your argument holds water.  Time / manpower requirements aren't a factor when determining "minimum tools".  It is the minimum tool to accomplish the task (cutting trees off trail).   Not cutting a certain number of trees in an allotted time or budget scale.
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 11:33 am 
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Token Civilian wrote:
Big Steve et al: *  *  *

You talking to me? I haven't directly weighed in on the propriety of using chainsaws in WAs.

My position: Stay within Section 4(c) of the Wilderness Act by making an evidenced-based record and use that record to support findings re whether use of a chainsaw is a justifiable exception to the 4(c) ban as "necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration" of the WA and to advance the purposes of the Act. And let the advocacy groups do their thing: The agency's action is subject to judicial review under applicable standard or review, which give deference to the agency IF they play by the rules. That's how it works. And it works.

My general view: Avoid any erosion or undermining or end-running of the Act (e.g., 67+ helicopter trips to rebuild a structure in a WA without any findings of necessity). Hold the agency accountable for playing by the rules. As laws to, the Wilderness Act is a beautiful piece of legislation that works. Don't screw it up.
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RodF
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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 3:07 pm 
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Token Civilian wrote:
RodF - I don't thing your argument holds water.  Time / manpower requirements aren't a factor when determining "minimum tools".  It is the minimum tool to accomplish the task (cutting trees off trail).  Not cutting a certain number of trees in an allotted time or budget scale.

Outcome is the factor in determining minimum tool necessary to accomplish the task.

CEQ allows two approaches to NEPA reviews: programmatic or site-specific.  Site-specific reviews cover only a single project of limited duration.  Programmatic reviews cover tasks of larger scale and longer duration.  On this issue, generally USFS does a site-specific review, and NPS a programmatic review.

In a site-specific review, "Accomplish the task" (in NEPA parlance, the Purpose and Need) may be defined narrowly as removing one problematic windfall tree, or many windfall in a specific section hit by a windstorm or wildfire, or reopening one entire trail one time.  Forest Service Manual 2326.1 advises:

Quote:
Allow the use of motorized equipment... To meet minimum needs for protection and administration of the area as wilderness, only as follows:
a.  A delivery or application problem necessary to meet wilderness objectives cannot be resolved within reason through the use of nonmotorized methods.
b.  An essential activity is impossible to accomplish by nonmotorized means because of such factors as time or season limitations, safety, or other material restrictions.

If the project can't be accomplished with crosscuts, this might result in a chainsaw waiver.  Please realize that weather and seasons, not merely budget, determine the time available, and longer projects requiring more manpower also entail larger Wilderness impacts.

In a programmatic review, the Purpose and Need is to meet the Park's current Wilderness Management Plan, which is to maintain it's entire trail system to meet the recreational purpose of the Park and of Wilderness.  One alternative (crosscut saws only) results in only perhaps 1/5 of the trails being cleared each year, the other (chainsaws) results in 3/4.

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PostSat Dec 03, 2016 11:06 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
I can lessen the pain of saw packing by balancing the bar on my shoulder and have the engine resting on top of my day pack.  I also have a scabbard that is made out of duck tape and one of those cheapo blue foam sleeping pads.  That way I can switch the saw from shoulder to shoulder--my shoulders get sore!  I have what we call, gypo jugs--plastic gas and oil containers and have rope tied to that so I can loop that over my saw bar.  Then the other accessories are in a day pack or The Used Dog carried wedges and lighter stuff, and I could carry a tool in my free hand.  Yes, it was work and tiring to pack that stuff, but once we got to a concentration of blowdown, we could leapfrog right through it.

Your supply of darn-close-to-interesting information about chainsaws is apparently inexhaustible.

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