Nov 11

Crosscut Sawing in Wilderness

A recent article in Outside Magazine expounded the allures of wilderness trail work and the use of the crosscut saw. Read it here.  
Image from Outside Magazine

Image from Outside Magazine

Wilderness protection status prohibits the use of mechanized and motorized equipment (except in special circumstances) in a designated wilderness area, no chainsaws or weed-whackers, just good ol' fashion hand tools. For many, it's viewed as a drawback of wilderness designation because of the labor and time it takes to maintain trails in the motor-less fashion. But that means much less noise (and air)  pollution. In wilderness, its all about letting "nature's sounds prevail" and preserving that natural tranquility not only for us visitors, but for all the critters that live there too.  Not to mention the human self-sufficiency of being less reliant on oil and more reliant on muscle and knowledge.  There's also the cooperative manner of working the crosscut saw that brings delight to participants, you have to get in sync with one another, almost like a dance, to accomplish the task of bucking a large tree that blocks a trail.  There is indeed a certain allure to sawing that draws people in.

As the article explains, folks of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) have found a way to stoke interest in trail work, and in designating more areas as wilderness, through the fun and finesse it takes to manage a cross-cut saw, and maybe do it faster than your friend.  SAWS was especially interested in gaining more trail work support from the college and older age set, and found that the competitive edge of working a saw helps bring people out to work on the public lands, and work hard.

Students from Azusa Pacific University work the cross cut saw while Trail Crew Leader Mike Heard looks on.

Students from Azusa Pacific University work the crosscut saw while Trail Crew Leader Mike Heard looks on.

VWA's dedicated Trail Crew Leaders are always looking for more hearty volunteers to help brush, grub and saw on the trails of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness areas.  (The US Forest Service routinely organizes crosscut saw trainings for its employees and forest working volunteers to maintain and teach proficiency and skill.  All Trail Crew outings using crosscut saws are lead or accompanied by a certified sawyer.)  Check the VWA Trail Crew page for more information and how you can get involved, and maybe find yourself behind a saw!

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