The Forest Service has a great motto: “Caring for the Land and Serving the People.”
This is a powerful foundation for building national programs.
In 2015 we were asked to help out with the US Forest Service’s National Saw Program. They had been meeting for the past 10 or so years working towards a new Saw Certification Program.
Like any national program that spans the full landscape the contrast is spectacular.
1. Giant Washington State Douglas Fir trees towering 175ft tall.
2. Enormous hollowed out Appalachian mountain hickory trees with wing spans of 120 feet.
3. Hostile scrub brush of New Mexico.
4. Wildland fires prescribed and raging out of control vs forest management.
Each species and landscape possesses its own unique pro tips and safe operating standards for Sawyers. Not to mention the certification includes 10,000 + Sawyers within the Forest Service and influences many other Nation’s fire and forest programs.
Imagine 40-70 confident saw leaders from every corner of the country getting together to build a national program, each with their own professional experiences and deeply embedded memories of success and failures, some sadly ending in fatalities. To save a life in one region could mean putting another Sawyer in harm’s way in another. One method doesn’t automatically translate safely into every situation.
How do you standardize a national program?
Will standard methods and techniques work throughout the landscape? And if not, what regional, species or conditional variants are tolerable?
One practical example is deciding if one type of undercut should be the national standard. There are basically three undercuts to choose from. Each has its advantages. In my neck of the woods with “production falling” the standard is the Humboldt undercut. But in other regions and with some arborists the convention and open face are preferred.