by Sarah Topp, MUCC Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator
I’m proud to say there were no safety incidents involving sawyer work this year (knock on wood), and I will see that through this year as well with the help of Chuck’s safety training course and volunteer cooperation. In fact, by using the techniques he taught in the course, every tree I felled went exactly where I had planned it to; and I felled a lot of trees this year (approximately 100). That’s a darn good success rate from the help of a one-day safety training course. A few hours learning about and practicing sawyer skills beats a few hours/days in the Emergency Room!
The course is free of charge and open to anyone. Last year, MUCC held a chainsaw safety training course led by Chuck Oslund of Bay College here at the office in Lansing. Although I had a great amount of prior chainsaw experience, I took a lot away from Chuck’s course. We will be hosting his chainsaw training course again this year on Saturday, January 16, 2016; see more details and RSVP here!
I highly encourage volunteers that would like to help out with MUCC habitat projects to attend. The course covers topics on why each saw operator must have a safety system, the elements of a good safety system, mental aspects of safety, safer chainsaw handling techniques, and the state-of-the-art safest way to fell a large diameter tree. After attending this course last year, I made sure to practice the techniques and incorporate my own safety system in volunteer habitat projects; especially projects involving hinge-cuts.
Last January, MUCC hosted a hinge-cutting project to restore snowshoe hare habitat in the Grayling State Forest. The group of six volunteers along with DNR Wildlife Biologists Brian Piccolo and Tim Riley hinge-cut 230 trees in stands totaling 60 acres. This project utilized the hinge-cutting technique to fell trees and provide cover specifically for the dwindling snowshoe hare population in the area. Balsam firs and brushy type pines were targeted to provide the thick, dense cover the hares need to thrive in the winter conditions.
Just three weeks after the project was completed in the area, Piccolo sent reports to us showing that the hinge-cut trees were being heavily utilized by snowshoe hare; well worth the work on a cold January day! Photos showed heavy track patterns through the new cover provided as well as nest stashes and scat. With prior success, we will be hosting this project again this year on a date TBD in January 2016 in the Grayling State Forest. See more details about the event and RSVP here!