Forum Index > Stewardship > chainsaws for trail maintenance in Wilderness?
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IdahoHyker
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 9:14 am 
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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.
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RandyHiker
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 9:31 am 
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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 ?
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JVesquire
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 9:32 am 
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WTA does this all the time. I've never heard anyone from WTA clamoring for a chainsaw. I don't know what you have in Idaho, but this isn't really an issue in Washington. We have lots of trails that need a lot of love and WTA is really trying their best to do it with the volunteer force that they have. Motorized equipment wouldn't make a huge dent in the backlog because it is the people that get the job done that is the limiting factor. NPS may use saws, but they also have a lot more dedicated funding for seasonal staff to get out there and clear trails up. It's the people, not the tools, I think that makes the difference.
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IdahoHyker
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 9:49 am 
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will need to learn how to address each issue separately but good points.  so why allow outfitters/commercial operators to open trails.  because they would do it for free.  we always want volunteers.....they would volunteer......yes, they get some benefit, but every volunteer gets some benefit, just a different kind.  I volunteer so I can benefit by good trails....they volunteer for the same reason, and I, or they, could use chain saws, I would volunteer my time and saw and get much more work done in the same amount of time......efficiency......  So back to the question, can I live with one week of chain saws in the wilderness, yes.
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IdahoHyker
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 9:54 am 
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the WTA doesn't clammor for saws because they live within the constraints placed upon them, which I applaud.  the question we should be asking is this..........can we get more work done for the money, that is efficiency, by allowing one week of saw use in the wilderness, and allow our agencies, and volunteers, to get more work done.  Can we as a society live with one week of saw use in the wilderness?
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IdahoHyker
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 9:56 am 
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by the way, I really enjoy discussing this issue rationally.
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RandyHiker
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 10:41 am 
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IdahoHyker wrote:
...Can we as a society live with one week of saw use in the wilderness?...

The one week thing is irrelevant to current law and policy.  If the USFS attempt to adopt such a policy it would certainly be challenged in court and almost certainly that challenge would be sustained IMHO. 

The law requires the USFS to perform a "minimum tools analysis" whenever motorized or non-traditional mechanised equipment is to be used and show that the task requires such mechanical help. 

A two person crosscut saw will cut through any tree that a chainsaw -- only more slowly -- I think that the argument that a chainsaw is the "minimum tool required for the job" doesn't have legs.


So I think any changes along these lines is going to require congressional action to amend the law. 

I'm opposed to such changes in the law on two counts: 1) The current and next congress seem more inclined to open up more federal lands to resource development or even selling off federal lands to private concerns.  2) I'm personally OK with trails having limited maintenance and blowdowns as I feel that these help preserve the "Wilderness Character" of an area.

I've witnessed poor wilderness stewardship by commercial horse packing operations -- recently I encountered a large cache of equipment and supplies at a horse camp in the Pasayten wilderness that had clearly be left over the winter.   So this leaves me skeptical of the "good intentions" of *ALL* commercial operations.   I'll bet the majority of commercial packers are good stewards, but there are some commercial operations that are not acting as good stewards.
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Malachai Constant
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 11:11 am 
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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.

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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 11:14 am 
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RandyHiker wrote:
"...selling off federal lands..."

three times in three posts.... why don't you just put that into your "signature" line?

got any evidence that's actually happening? other than a few nutballs who hold meetings at resorts in the western US?

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.

so? toss 'em all into one pot with a label?

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.

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jinx'sboy
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 11:32 am 
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RandyHiker wrote:

The law requires the USFS to perform a "minimum tools analysis" whenever motorized or non-traditional mechanised equipment is to be used and show that the task requires such mechanical help. ........

So I think any changes along these lines is going to require congressional action to amend the law

Not a question of law.  And it applies to NPS and other agencies.

How an agency chooses to comply with Wilderness Act is a policy question.  Any change would be a policy change, only.
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DIYSteve
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 12:07 pm 
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jinx'sboy wrote:
How an agency chooses to comply with Wilderness Act is a policy question.

Sorta. Congress set the Policy with a big P. The executive branch executes that legislative policy and an admin "policy" with a small p results, but the agency's actions must fall within an interpretation of the Act that is reasonable, rational and supported by findings. In other words, the agency can set policy only with the confines of the legislative grant of authority. It all circles back to an interpretation of the Act, which is a matter of law.
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treeswarper
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 12:20 pm 
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 12:25 pm 
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Besides being easier to pack in, you can also cut with a crosscut all day and during fire season when restrictions are in place, as they often are in August.

I just can't work anymore on volunteer crews.  I can't stand the late starts in the morning.  That makes for working during the heat of the day.  I know it has to be that way.  If I were in charge of the world, I'd start at or close to daybreak, but then nobody else would show up...so, I'll just kick stuff off the trail.

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DIYSteve
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 12:30 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
If I were in charge of the world.  .  .  .

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jinx'sboy
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PostFri Dec 02, 2016 12:30 pm 
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Yes, Steve.

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.
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