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  1. #1
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    Downed trees, chain saws and the USFS?

    I have a huge downed pine tree across an OHV trail in my area that I want to remove.

    Obviously there is a fire ban right now, so I will have to bring a 10lb ABC fire extinguisher and a shovel (as per park county regulations).

    What are the rules? Can I just cut up the tree, doing everyone a favor or am I going to hell if the USFS finds me?
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  2. #2
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    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

  3. #3
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    I have me one of those, but this is a job for the Stihl.

    It's a BIG tree on a steep section and being OHV I can get my truck in there with the saw, extinguisher and shovel.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  4. #4
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    USFS,Don't ask, don't tell. Protect against fire and do the job.

    I don't think FS has recourse against this behavior unless you remove timber, but if you ask the answer will be NO.

  5. #5
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    Technically, you're not supposed to but also technically, the USFS has no budget and will likely give you a silent nod of thanks when you're done. If you don't do it and it's on an OHV road, it's likely that it'll get cut out by someone else shortly.
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  6. #6
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    Technically I believe you need to have completed a USFS safety course to operate a chainsaw on USFS land.

    That said, we've always received thank you's from the rangers on moto trail clearing days. The USFS has a small moto crew that goes around clearing, but they couldn't cover more than 2-3% of trail a year w/o user group support. Like ignazjr said, no budget.

    Just remember to keep the cuts single-wide

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by thump View Post
    Technically I believe you need to have completed a USFS safety course to operate a chainsaw on USFS land.

    That said, we've always received thank you's from the rangers on moto trail clearing days. The USFS has a small moto crew that goes around clearing, but they couldn't cover more than 2-3% of trail a year w/o user group support. Like ignazjr said, no budget.

    Just remember to keep the cuts single-wide
    Exactly. There is a special course for chainsaws, the regulations say that only people who've had the saw course are supposed to touch a running chainsaw on both Forest and BLM. Even staff who haven't had the course are prohibited. And it's not only a long course (like most of a week I think?) but it's hard to find one that's offered. Our trails group got our hands slapped last year for sending a posse with half a dozen saws to clear a corridor (just trimming back piñon and taking down a few 10' trees).

    So for a single down tree, don't ask, don't tell as sbsbiker says. A ranger comes up? You never knew this, you were just trying to do a good deed. With the conditions, be sure your saw has a good spark arresting muffler (they all do, just don't use an old junker) and if at all possible have some water handy and maybe even a spotter who's watching for trouble. If you hit a nail or something embedded in the wood it could throw some sparks... I'd probably kick back as much of the ground litter (pine needles, etc) as possible surrounding your log.

    I have a crappy little Poulan department store saw, I think it's only a 14" bar, maybe 16". Every time I show up to work with it with somebody who has a good saw like a Stihl or Husky, they make a point to tell me that it's a crappy saw. Then they fuss with theirs for 10 minutes trying to get it to kick over. My crappy one starts on the second pull every time. Love it!

    I've cut some incredibly large trees with it just by making a series of angled cuts. If the log's big enough you might need to start by taking out a wedge or two to narrow the cross section.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  8. #8
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    Our Ranger District will tell you on the record that only trained, certified sawyers are allowed to do trail maintenance with a chainsaw. That said if someone they know to be competent with a saw cuts out something that's not a total jackstraw mess they'll be grateful and tell that person thank you. If trees magically get cut and they don't know who did it they won't be sweating it.

    OTOH, they aren't totally comfortable with the idea of a bunch of people who may not know what they're doing running around doing trail work with chainsaws either. It's all a balancing act between getting the job done with limited budget and adhering to all the rules. Most folks in the FS who work on the ground are pretty pragmatic.

  9. #9
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    This might be a good thread to bring up this related topic. How good are the "hand" chainsaws? I'm wondering how good they are at cutting trees...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    This might be a good thread to bring up this related topic. How good are the "hand" chainsaws? I'm wondering how good they are at cutting trees...
    Since this is turning into a "What's the best chainsaw for the Front Range" thread, I might as well ask too. I had a Husqy 335 and had pretty good luck with it at first, but it was starting to slip with more use. I liked the smaller, lighter size of it, but I need something a little more powerful now. Any strong opinions or thoughts on sticking with my Swedish heritage and getting another Husqy, or should I go Teutonic and get a Stihl? My father in law (big chainsaw user) swears by Husqy, but most of my neighbors (also big chainsaw users) have Stihls. I should probably look for a chainsaw review site...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kristian View Post
    Since this is turning into a "What's the best chainsaw for the Front Range" thread, I might as well ask too. I had a Husqy 335 and had pretty good luck with it at first, but it was starting to slip with more use. I liked the smaller, lighter size of it, but I need something a little more powerful now. Any strong opinions or thoughts on sticking with my Swedish heritage and getting another Husqy, or should I go Teutonic and get a Stihl? My father in law (big chainsaw user) swears by Husqy, but most of my neighbors (also big chainsaw users) have Stihls. I should probably look for a chainsaw review site...
    I think Husky kind of went stealth-china. I heard somebody around here who has a fire mitigation business say that Husky isn't what Husky was.

    Every Stihl I've ever been around was finicky. YMMV.

    At one point Homelite was considered to be a pretty damn good saw...

    If I was going to buy a new one (especially if I still lived in the Forest as you do and wanted to get a really good one) I would definitely get on the interwebs and try to find a review site or two. But I got my Poulan when I lived in the Forest and I used the God out of it.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  12. #12
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    What about the "hand" chain saws? Anyone ever use one? Are they universally $hite?

    You can't take a "proper" chainsaw into Wilderness Areas... nor would you want to on a backpacking trip. But I'm curious if the hand ones would be worth schlepping along?

  13. #13
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    I've never tried the hand chain saws, but they sound interesting. For just a general purpose backcountry hand saw, I swear by the sven-saw. Light, durable and requires little to no maintenance. I've had mine for almost 10 years and I think it cuts almost as well as it did the day I bought it.

    Sven-Saw, the Famous Campfire Folding Saw

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    What about the "hand" chain saws? Anyone ever use one? Are they universally $hite?

    You can't take a "proper" chainsaw into Wilderness Areas... nor would you want to on a backpacking trip. But I'm curious if the hand ones would be worth schlepping along?
    I carry one of these in my pack all the time:

    Corona Clipper 8-Inch Razor Tooth Folding Curved Pruning Saw RS 7255: Lewis Contractor Sales

    It works really well, and I've gotten it to help me with logs a fair amount bigger than 8" diameter (you gotta want it though).

    But best of all, it's cheap.

    One of the chains with the two yank ropes on it--I would expect that you could handle a much bigger log than my little trimming saw will do. So that looks kind of compelling. Probably easier to sharpen than mine. I'd say the Corona is pretty much a throw-away if it gets dull. (so far so good, I've had it for 6 years now). Looks like they are pretty much in the same price range... maybe a little messier to put in the pack without shredding your rain jacket.

    I look at log removal as an act of charity that I am willing to perform. And for a 6-10" log it's often only 5 or 10 minutes of my time. But if it's a bigger than I can handle log, everybody is going to have to crawl over it like I did until somebody comes out with a saw that will handle it.

    BTW, Starvation currently has a log that must be nearly 3' in diameter at about chest level. When I was there Saturday I was able to hoist my bike over it, but the gap under was too tight and it was too awkward to crawl over so I had to go down off trail and hop over the creek, then back over past the log. It's a doozer. You'd need one hell of a long manual chain saw to deal with it. And even then you'd spend an hour or more sweating and grunting.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  15. #15
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    Once again MTBR comes through with the goods! Thanks guys.

    Any suggestions on what to do with the slash? The tree needs limbing before bucking, and I'd hate to leave behind a fire hazard.

    I could fit the slash in the truck and take to a local slash pit, but I don't want anyone accusing me of stealing wood from the forest without a permit. I have about 500 dead trees on my property that need bucking, so I REALLY don't need wood...


    Best Saw for the front range?

    I did a fair bit of OCD research on what saw to get since I had/have a lot of dead trees to fell & buck.

    Biggest problem we have here at 10K ft is power loss due to altitude. I ended up with a Sthil 311 (20" bar) with a self adjusting carb. It's still running a little rich since it tends to bog if you get on it from idle.

    Husky also seems like a good buy, but I really wanted an Echo saw. For around the same money you get a pro saw that goes a long time between rebuilds vs something like the Sthil 311.

    Anyway, Echo wouldn't sell me a saw since they couldn't tune the carb for 10,000ft... the store was down in Denver. If I were at lower altitude I would buy an Echo...
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    What about the "hand" chain saws? Anyone ever use one? Are they universally $hite?

    You can't take a "proper" chainsaw into Wilderness Areas... nor would you want to on a backpacking trip. But I'm curious if the hand ones would be worth schlepping along?
    From what I've seen they work pretty good on small/med stuff. There are plenty of youtube vids of them in action so you can get an idea of how well they work.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    I think Husky kind of went stealth-china. I heard somebody around here who has a fire mitigation business say that Husky isn't what Husky was.

    Every Stihl I've ever been around was finicky. YMMV.

    At one point Homelite was considered to be a pretty damn good saw...

    If I was going to buy a new one (especially if I still lived in the Forest as you do and wanted to get a really good one) I would definitely get on the interwebs and try to find a review site or two. But I got my Poulan when I lived in the Forest and I used the God out of it.
    Well there's Husky, the Home Depot house brand, and Husqvarna. I think Kristian means the latter.

    [Edit] Maybe you both are talking about Husqvarna and I'm the only one confused. It doesn't look like there is an HD Husky chainsaw.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liquidmantis View Post
    Well there's Husky, the Home Depot house brand, and Husqvarna. I think Kristian means the latter.

    [Edit] Maybe you both are talking about Husqvarna and I'm the only one confused. It doesn't look like there is an HD Husky chainsaw.
    Yeah, I'm talking about Husqvarna. As I recall, back in the old days you could only get Husqvarna stuff at Husqvarna dealers. Now you can get them at True Value, K-Mart, wherever.

    So what I'm saying specifically, is that an acquaintance of mine who makes a living cutting wood said Husqvarna isn't what Husqvarna was. Their motorcycles used to be the shiznit, and now you don't even hear about them. It's all KTM.

    (I actually had to go see if you could even get Husqvarna motos in north america any more. Looks like they have a distributor, but when's the last time you saw a new one?)
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    (I actually had to go see if you could even get Husqvarna motos in north america any more. Looks like they have a distributor, but when's the last time you saw a new one?)
    Funny you should ask that. I saw one a few weeks ago when I was down in NM. The guy said he had only had it a few months and was looking to trade it or sell it to get a Honda. Said it has the same problem they've always had, too finicky and now even harder to find parts for.

    My buddy that builds trail up in British Columbia says stay with Stihl. You can always find parts and accessories for them, and just about every small town has someone that can and will work on one.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post

    I look at log removal as an act of charity that I am willing to perform.
    After our backpacking trip this past weekend I'm starting to view dead-tree-management as a serious safety concern...

  21. #21
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    Don't leave your slash on the ground. I took down a large tree earlier this spring, and I split the trunk into firewood but had not yet cleaned up the slash (and their was a fair bit scattered around). When the fire came, it burned a lot hotter where the slash was scattered, and I will lose the trees nearby (totally burned bark and needles). In other nearby areas where there wasn't slash, I think the trees will pull through (green-brown needles and bark burned up to about 5 feet).

    We have a slash chipping volunteer site a few miles from my house, and I don't think they would ever accuse anyone of stealing wood. Anyone who steals wood would just leave the slash in the national forest where they stole the wood from. If they ask, have your driver's license handy to show you live somewhere with property.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    Their motorcycles used to be the shiznit, and now you don't even hear about them. It's all KTM.

    (I actually had to go see if you could even get Husqvarna motos in north america any more. Looks like they have a distributor, but when's the last time you saw a new one?)
    There's still plenty out there and they're plenty good bikes. Most on blowout sales right now because the CEO of KTM (not KTM itself) just bought the brand and the future is still a bit unclear. Not positive, but I think the small motor stuff actually split from the bike business sometime back.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    After our backpacking trip this past weekend I'm starting to view dead-tree-management as a serious safety concern...
    Oh yeah. And there's a bunch of reasons those gubmint folks insist on saw classes. There's lots of bad stuff that can happen to you besides cutting a foot off. I'm sure you know this, but when a down tree is hung up in another tree getting it to come down is pretty goddamn sketchy. Often there's lots of tension built up when trees are down or nearly down.

    I heard a story about how some folks had a ponderosa that blew over, so that the roots were all exposed. While the dad was cutting the trunk to make firewood, his little boy went down and played in the hole. When the trunk cut was complete that sucker snapped back up and killed that little boy dead.

    An experienced sawyer will walk up to a tree and see all the ways it could kill him before he even touches it with his saw.

    I have been working with chain saws since the 70s when I was a kid. And I have done some STOOPID things. I've been really lucky. At least now I'm old and wise enough to know that I'm a dumbazz.

    Colorado's forests are full of hanging fire ready to squish you, that's for sure.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post


    Colorado's forests are full of hanging fire ready to squish you, that's for sure.
    This is the truth. The forests are FULL of dead trees. With root systems getting more rotten by the day. We had one fall in our backcountry camp which thankfully didn't hurt anyone, but I will be hyper-vigilant from now on when locating a campsite...

    And I fear with how dense our wilderness forests have become in CO that we may be SOL for a bunch of years while trees start to come down around our ears.

    Maybe we'll get lucky and the whole state will have one of those Routt blowdown events and take ALL the dead trees down.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    We had one fall in our backcountry camp which thankfully didn't hurt anyone, but I will be hyper-vigilant from now on when locating a campsite...


    Lucky that turned out OK!

    Also TOMP, good points on the tension found in a lot of dead fall. The chain saw is the most dangerous saw you can own and there are so many ways to make mistakes... bad things happen fast.

    Anyone else use a peavey? Makes bucking a little less back breaking

    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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