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  1. #1
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    Rules for clearing blowdowns on COTA trails?

    1st - are there rules to clearing blowdowns (e.g. do I need to be apart of a COTA work crew to clear trees, am I required to log/report work to someone, etc.)?

    2nd - if I'm ok to clear blowdowns on my own merit, does anyone have recommendations for cutting tools? I purchased a tree/limb cutting device two summers ago for camping but haven't really used it much. Its basically a >1ft long chainsaw blade with handles on ea. end. Essentially you place the cutting blade around a small tree or branch and then pull w/ one hand while the other allows for cutting in the opposing direction and then vice versa once you've spent the length of the blade in one direction. Again, didn't use it much and when I did it didn't cut too efficiently.
    jjMarS

  2. #2
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    Not an official COTA answer:

    Anyone can technically/legally clear trees without a chainsaw. Look up Silky Saw. Just remember you can only pull with these. No push/pull. I bent someone's saw as I didn't know that...

    Main thing is to cut deadfall so that it's left there in a safe way.

    Examples of dangerous cutting would be a tree that fell over and is leaning on some other log. So it's a tree suspended horizontally in the air. If you cut it at the edge of the trail, it's a giant suspended hazard. Someone could be clothes-lined by it if they aren't paying attention. Break a shin, etc.

    If you had ridden skyliner trail in the last few weeks, someone (not the cota adopter), cut a hanging tree just at chest height, at an angle to the trail and on an outside corner. It was SO dangerous. The adopter has since gone in to fix that.

    Another typical mistake is not cutting off branches at the base of the branch, and thus leaving a blunt branch nub there for whoever accidentally crashes into the log and then impales them self.

    Lastly, the proximity to the trail edge is another issue. If you cut it at the trail edge, there's a chance someone will run into it, catch a pedal, etc. Typically you want to cut it a couple feet beyond the edge of the trail, or cut it back to whatever it's leaning on if it's suspended.

    There are a few instances where you might cut a tree just at the edge of the trail to anchor a corner, but that's sort of a design consideration. Think inside corner type stuff.

    Typically I think most people (including myself) are appreciative of whoever cleared logs (whether a cota person or not), but there are those few instances where it's done in a dangerous way and is worse than making someone hop off their bike to go over/around.

    Thanks for your help bro!

  3. #3
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    If you are intending to go and do some trail clearing it would be best to go to the local Forrest service office and ask what the guidelines actually are, otherwise you will probably get a bunch of well intentioned but possibly incorrect internet "opinions".

    Even those folks who are COTA connected have different opinions and will cut/clear a trail differently. I know the USFS has fairly specific guidelines about trail tread width and I'm pretty sure clearing stuff back a couple of feet from what is say, intended as a 12 inch tread trail isn't what they (USFS) is looking for, even though it makes sense to do it that way at times, just sayin!

    Thanks for the clearing work though dude, hope to see you out there.

  4. #4
    love my Simonds 519
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    Not an official COTA answer either:

    This is a bit of a tricky one. It's good etiquette to let the trail steward know of your work---if nothing else it'll let them allocate their time more effectively, instead of going out only to discover someone's already done the work they were planning to do---and hours should be logged to COTA's worklog. However, if you're not cutting with a power saw you're subject to crosscut saw certification requirements on Forest Service land (I'm not familiar with the BLM's requirements). Cutting uncertified means you and those you might be working with are not eligible for a workers comp claim through COTA's organizational agreement with the Forest Service in the event of an injury. This is perfectly fine as an individual choice but, as sketchbook points out, gets problematic if someone else gets hurt. COTA, as a trail adopter, has a responsibility to maintain trails both safely and in safe condition, as do those of us who are certified. The Forest Service can, and occasionally does, revoke saw certifications and close trails.

    This puts those of us who are trail stewards and certified sawyers in a bit of a bind. If you do the nice thing and let us know you're going to go cut out we're then informed, which in turn makes us responsible. Unlike chainsaw, where the requirement is you be certified, you can make cuts by hand without certification. Provided the cutting's done under direct supervision of a crosscut certified sawyer. Which, so far as COTA goes, would be me. As RTurner alludes to, there are details I won't go into here, but the usual way of going about this is join saw crews, build familiarity, and then get certified. You're welcome to work with me on the MetWin (see my sig ) once it's out of the snow or hook up with trailwork@cotamtb.com to find out what crews are going out.

    It's also good to familiarize yourself with COTA's trail standards, which you can find at here. In particular, the corridor requirements sketchbook's describing can be found on page 8. You can also have a look at the Forest Service's Chain Saw and Crosscut Saw Traning Course to get a sense of what a certification class covers.
    Metolius-Windigo trail steward from Happy Valley to Todd Creek---PM me if you'd like to help maintain Metolius-Windigo!

  5. #5
    it means 'no problem'
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    COTA's Trail Work coordinator will hopefully weigh in...

    First, thanks for your interest in helping out!

    Second, there are detailed Tread and Corridor specifications found in the COTA Trail Standards (linked above by twest) and it's good to know how those apply to the certain trail. (i.e. Class II, Blue, Open... there's lots to consider.)

    Third, and most important, do your best to contact the trail adopter before going and if you do go anyway, please let COTA know where you went and what you did and didn't do. (our worklog is an excellent start, but contacting trailwork@cotamtb.com also works)

    Both the "unofficial" responses above are accurate because both of those individuals have gone through COTA Trail Crew Leader training and are the Adopters of certain trails. Come to our next monthly meeting to find out how you can get involved at that level if you are so inclined.

    I have to ask, which trail needs to be cleared? Sometimes the adopters are waiting for more snow to melt or for their real life to get out of the way!
    "“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Edward Abbey

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sans soucie View Post
    COTA's Trail Work coordinator will hopefully weigh in...

    I have to ask, which trail needs to be cleared? Sometimes the adopters are waiting for more snow to melt or for their real life to get out of the way!
    Sector 16

  7. #7
    it means 'no problem'
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    Quote Originally Posted by sketchbook View Post
    Sector 16
    True. Very true.
    "“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Edward Abbey

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the excellent question JJ.

    Not much for me to say here as its been well covered by everyone.

    #1 Respect the adopter. If you think they're dropping the ball, email them and offer to help. That's why we put our email addresses on our website.
    #2 If you've done work claim it. We do. By logging the hours on our website (or at least email me) we can be more efficient with our time. We've had some very frustrating experiences, when we've committed the time and effort to do work that was done before we got there.

    Thanks everyone for your support of COTA with your time and your money. We really do appreciate it.

    Crash

  9. #9
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    Sector 16 is replete w/ blowdowns. From Swede Shelter, I hit the first downed tree about 200 yards in. I cleared from that point for approx. 1.5 miles which totaled approx. 15 plus trees - I lost count. From there I hit a couple of larger trees in diameter and chose to leave them due to the poor functioning of my cutting tool and inability to physically move. Most of the blowdowns I'd simply moved with brute strength - my football coach always said that bigger and stronger is better. Though I've often disagreed since my football days, my 270lb. frame came in handy today. From the point where I elected to stop cutting (i.e. which is approx. 1.5 - 2 miles into Sector 16), I stopped counting blowdowns after I'd crossed over twenty. Once you hit the trail sign that indicates that Phil's T.H. is 9.2 miles away, you've successfully put the blowdowns behind you. Thought: Does anyone know how to access Sector 16 from the FSR that links you to copious DO NOT CUT signs?? If someone were to access from this point they could double back for one mile and push forward for two miles and entirely clear the line - just a thought. It's apparent that the COTA members that have ownership of this trail have done an amazing job in past years - I'd be more than happy to help with this years workload if I knew who they were - I'll look at the COTA website and ferret out this information. Lastly, thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights to my initial inquiry! See you on the trail....
    jjMarS

  10. #10
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    thanks JJ! You big giant linebacker dude! May just ride there tomorrow.

  11. #11
    love my Simonds 519
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjMarS View Post
    I'll look at the COTA website and ferret out this information.
    Yeah, it's not in the most obvious place. Trails -> Adopt a Trail -> Find a trail to adopt.
    Metolius-Windigo trail steward from Happy Valley to Todd Creek---PM me if you'd like to help maintain Metolius-Windigo!

  12. #12
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    Hello sketchbook - did you get a chance to hit up Sector 16 yet? Any chance that you know of the section that I'd inquired about? There's about a 1/8 mile section near an FSR on Sector 16 that has several DO NOT CUT WOOD signs. I believe they're white signs with black letters. Thanks!
    Quote Originally Posted by sketchbook View Post
    thanks JJ! You big giant linebacker dude! May just ride there tomorrow.
    jjMarS

  13. #13
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    Just emailed the Trail Stewart for Sector 16. twest820 had shared some insights to navigating through the COTA sight to locate contact info - thnx twest820! BTW, this Trail Stewart is NOT dropping the ball at all - I'd just like to help with the work. Thanks Bro!
    Quote Originally Posted by SeenYour Crash View Post
    Thanks for the excellent question JJ.

    Not much for me to say here as its been well covered by everyone.

    #1 Respect the adopter. If you think they're dropping the ball, email them and offer to help. That's why we put our email addresses on our website.
    #2 If you've done work claim it. We do. By logging the hours on our website (or at least email me) we can be more efficient with our time. We've had some very frustrating experiences, when we've committed the time and effort to do work that was done before we got there.

    Thanks everyone for your support of COTA with your time and your money. We really do appreciate it.

    Crash
    jjMarS

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjMarS View Post
    Hello sketchbook - did you get a chance to hit up Sector 16 yet? Any chance that you know of the section that I'd inquired about? There's about a 1/8 mile section near an FSR on Sector 16 that has several DO NOT CUT WOOD signs. I believe they're white signs with black letters. Thanks!
    I have not ridden much this week unfortunately. Too much work.

    Don't know what to tell you about those signs. I think in general those might be posted for people with chainsaws? Don't know...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sketchbook View Post
    I have not ridden much this week unfortunately. Too much work.

    Don't know what to tell you about those signs. I think in general those might be posted for people with chainsaws? Don't know...

    People are not to harvest firewood n these areas. Nothing to do with clearing blow downs.
    Phil's Trail Steward for COTA
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  16. #16
    Afric Pepperbird
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    It is the private "Sector 16" section....It is to be politely avoided. We should all be gracious for what the property owners do allow.

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