Thursday, August 30, 2018

WILDFIRE UPDATE - Get Red Cross First Aid Certification BEFORE Taking FS Chainsaw Class

The Forest Service requires that volunteers - who use chainsaws to clear trails of downed trees - get certified or recertified every 3 years.  

According to the Forest Service, volunteer sawyers covered by those policies often maintain trails on national forests and grasslands or work in Wilderness where crosscut saws are required. The national saw directive standardizes training, evaluation, certification, and safety procedures for sawyers operating on lands managed by the agency.

Valid Red Cross Adult First Aid Card

The FS requires volunteers to have a valid Red Cross First Aid/CPR certification card BEFORE you can take the FS Chainsaw Certification class.  Depending on where you live, the Red Cross
Classes (usually ½ day or so) are either online or you attend in person. Costs vary from $25 dollars for the online course to $115 for the classroom.

 To learn more about the American Red Cross training programs, please visit:

The safety planning components are related to Felling, Bucking, Brushing and Limbing Plans that uses a planning logic strategy which includes the following analysis and project description categories; Objective, Hazards/Obstacles, Leans/Binds, Escape Routes, and Cut Plan (OHLEC).  This process is applied to all phases of the saw operation.

Historically, the chainsaw certification levels were largely based on tree size or Diameter at Breast Height (DBH). The current certification rating is more focused on the complexity of the specific felling or bucking task using OHLEC as a decision matrix.  The sawyer certification levels are listed below.

A Sawyer.  An apprentice sawyer who may saw only in the least complex situations or, for training purposes, at the next higher level and in either case only under the immediate supervision of a B or C Sawyer qualified to supervise the work.

B Sawyer – Bucking Only (not applicable in the fire management context). An intermediate sawyer who may independently buck and limb any size material in moderately complex situations and who may saw at the next higher level, but only under the immediate supervision of a sawyer qualified to supervise the work

B Sawyer – Felling and Bucking.  An intermediate sawyer who may independently fell, buck, and limb any size material in moderately complex situations. This person may saw at the next higher level under the immediate supervision of a sawyer qualified to supervise the work. This person may also conduct classroom and field training for A and B Sawyers with prior written approval from the Saw Program Coordinator.

C Sawyer – Bucking Only (not applicable in the fire management context). An advanced sawyer who may independently buck and limb any size material in highly complex situations based on the Regional Saw Program Manager’s or Saw Program Coordinator’s written recommendation. The recommendation must be supported by demonstrated advanced saw knowledge, skills, and in most cases certification as a B Sawyer. This person may conduct classroom and field training within that person’s skill level for A and B Sawyers, and may conduct field proficiency evaluations within that person’s skill level for A Sawyers and B Sawyers ̶ Bucking Only.

C Sawyer ̶  Felling and Bucking. An advanced sawyer who may independently fell, buck, and limb any size material in highly complex situations based on the Regional Saw Program Manager’s or Saw Program Coordinator’s written recommendation. The recommendation must be supported by demonstrated advanced saw knowledge, skills, and in most cases certification as a B Sawyer. This person may conduct classroom, field training, and proficiency evaluations for A and B Sawyers.


Again, the training is very comprehensive.  Topics include, but are not limited to: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), area size up, proper body positioning and stance,  familiarity with OSHA requirements and regulations, physics of “binds”,  physics of “kickback”, sawyer/swamper communication, cutting area control, danger tree awareness,  job hazard analysis and emergency evacuation plans,  Forest Service radio communication, radio procedures and how to use a Forest Service radio;  parts of the chainsaw,  how to sharpen chainsaw chain,  and saw maintenance;   and of course the inclusion of safe chainsaw handling, starting and stopping procedures, use of escape routes,  and safe fueling of the saw to avoid “fuel geysers.”

It is important to set aside two days for the FS Chainsaw Class which includes one day in the classroom and one day in the field.  And again, plan for ½ a day to attend a Red Cross First Aid class.

As OHV stakeholders and partners wait for volunteer post-wildfire projects to be scheduled  -- once the fires are out, mop up operations are concluded, and the FS or BLM are ready to starting planning for volunteer projects -- you can be proactive and get your Red Cross First Aid certification NOW and be ready to attend a FS chainsaw class when they are announced.

The need for a trained professional volunteer workforce will continue to grow as we face the current and future impacts of wildfires on federal recreation areas.

*Don Amador also serves as the Operations Chief for the Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance

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Monday, August 13, 2018

POST WILDFIRE ACCESS - Avoid Economic Impact to Local Communities

Alert Public to Post Fire Hazards

Extreme wildfires have both immediate and long-term impacts on OHV recreation. They can destroy  trail delineators, signs, viewsheds, kiosks, and campground facilities.  Costly soil erosion and water quality-related trail structures can often be obliterated by dozers blading fire lines around the blaze.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, “…  many lands sustaining wildfire are naturally stimulated and recover to healthy conditions, some catastrophic fire can damage the land, causing threats to human life, property, and biological and cultural resources downstream. In these situations, land managers may decide to apply "first-aid" immediately after the wildfire to help stabilize and repair the landscape.

The USDA Forest Service and Department of the Interior (DOI) agencies use Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) to manage post-fire response actions within a year of a wildfire being contained. These efforts, also known as Emergency Stabilization, prevent further degradation of natural and cultural resources, and protect life and property.

In some cases, DOI may provide additional funding to improve burned areas and achieve desired conditions for up to 3 years after containment. "Burned Area Rehabilitation" (BAR) supports the healing process and provides a "bridge" to long-term recovery. Allocation of BAR funds involves a rigorous and competitive process to evaluate projects. This ensures the needs of greatest concern on DOI lands are addressed first.

Further rehabilitation and maintenance of healthy conditions are the responsibility of local land managers through agency natural resources programs.

Caution Signs - Post Fire Management Tool

A recent main stream media story (see link below) also illustrates that loss of road and trail access can have a devastating impact to the local community’s culture and economy.


QWR understands that land agencies are faced with a lot of difficult decisions on how to recover the land after the wildfire has been put out and that temporary closures can be an important tool for when a bridge or road is washed out. 

Post Fire Trail Management Tool

However, given the important role that outdoor recreation has as a critical economic driver in many rural areas, QWR believes that land agencies should avoid - if possible - landscape level closures of the burn area and work with various partners in post-fire recovery planning and implementation of subsequent “first aid” travel and resource management prescriptions that are focused on reopening affected areas in a timely manner so as to avoid prolonged impacts to recreation access and local communities.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

POST FIRE GOLD - Don't Trespass - Stay the Trail

Gold Note OHV Area
Eldorado NF

With many FS and BLM OHV areas being impacted by devastating wildfires, QWR believes it is important for the OHV community to remember (and be thankful for) a number of other fun OHV areas that can help offer family-oriented trail recreation during these trying times.

Stay on the Trail
Eldorado NF

While up on a business trip to visit with Dave Pickett, a good friend and AMA District 36 Legislative Action Officer, I made use of some free to take a short tour of the Gold Note OHV Area located on the Eldorado National Forest.

Link to FS Info on Gold Note OHV Area

The Forest Service has done a good job of signing the trails and armoring some of their park/staging areas.

Gold Note OHV Staging Area
Eldorado NF

QWR believes that non-fire impacted OHV areas will play an important role by providing access for both casual use and permitted events while units impacted by wildfires are repaired post-fire mitigations such as hazard tree removal, erosion control structures constructed or reconstructed, and barriers or trail delineators installed.

OHV 4WD Route
Eldorado NF

Please stay safe during this fire season and avoid illegal off-route trespass in sensitive areas or onto private property where signs, barriers, or protective vegetation has been burned off by the wildfires.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

OPINION - Ranch Fire Charting Own Course

Smoke from Ranch Fire Cresting Goat Mountain
View from 4Q Ranch in Stonyford, CA

By Don Amador
August 4, 2018

On August 3, 2018 over 150 people from Stonyford and surrounding areas attended a public meeting at the Stonyford Grange to get an update from fire professionals and land managers on the rapidly expanding Ranch Fire.  I attended this meeting on behalf of the OHV community and as the Core-Team Lead for FireScape Mendocino.

Forest Supervisor, Ann Carlson, Gives Update on Ranch Fire and 
Urges Residents to Heed Evacuation Orders

The Ranch Fire is part of the Mendocino Complex which also includes the River Fire that is burning the BLM’s Cow Mountain OHV Area and impacting private inholdings and surrounding communities of Lakeport, etc.

Goat Mountain Road is Closed Due to Ranch Fire

Fire leads highlighted the serious and aggressive nature of the Ranch Fire that has burned through large portions of the Upper Lake Ranger District’s OHV Area and through Bartlett Springs and Indian Valley Reservoir.  The fire is making runs up and over Goat Mountain through Tuleyome’ s property into the Stonyford OHV Area and also into Long Valley.

The three key points about the Ranch Fire that impressed me at the meeting were;

  • Precedent setting rapid fire runs never before seen by fire crews on the Mendocino 
  • Fire often ignores traditional fuel or fire treatments 
  • GET OUT NOW – When evacuation orders are given

I expect that the Ranch Fire map produced later today will show the fire advancing towards the east and northeast consuming more of the Stonyford OHV Area and threatening residents near or in the Greater Stonyford area.

Local Residents Review Ranch Fire Map

Of specific interest to the OHV community is a vast majority of OHV recreation (both casual use and permitted events) during the winter months in Northern California occurs on the BLM’s Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area and the Mendocino’s National Forest’s Upper Lake and Stonyford OHV Areas. 

Be assured that OHV leadership has already been working on a post-fire recovery strategy to help address what appear to be significant impacts to the affected federal recreation sites.

Let’s keep the firefighters and affected communities in our thoughts and prayers.