US Forest Service Establishes New Safety Policy Regarding Use of Saws on Forest Lands

June 20, 2016 - The United States Forest Service recently established a new policy for using saws on Forest Lands. The policy applies to Forest Service staff, partners, and volunteers. It is particularly relevant for the many Conservation Corps crews that serve on Forest Lands. 

Press Release 

Saw Policy Webpage 

Full Text of Policy in Federal Register


Text of Press Release:

Forest Service Updates Safety Policy for Saw Use

WASHINGTON, JULY 19, 2016 AT 1:30 PM EDTThe U.S. Forest Service today finalized a policy that will provide for nationally consistent training, evaluation and certification requirements for the use of chain saws and crosscut saws on National Forest System lands. The new policy governs the use of saws by Forest Service and other governmental employees, volunteers, training consultants and cooperators on lands managed by the Forest Service.

“This policy ensures that our employees, our volunteers and our partners will consistently have the best knowledge available and, in the end, be safer when using saws in National Forests,” said Leslie Weldon, deputy chief for the Forest Service’s National Forest System. “The change also means that if sawyers are certified in one region, they are eligible to work in any of our regions.”

Since the 1970s, the agency’s nine regions developed regional policies on the use of chain saws and crosscut saws. Sawyers covered by those policies often maintained trails on national forests and grasslands, helped fight wildfires and worked in wilderness areas where cross cut saws are required. Employees, cooperators and volunteers who worked in more than one region had to comply with multiple regional policies and certifications obtained in one region but not always honored in another.

Under the new national directive:

  • Current sawyer certifications will remain valid until they expire.
  • Cooperators have one year, until July 19, 2017, to meet the new requirements.
  • Sawyers must comply with U.S. Department of Labor minimum age requirements, which limit use of chainsaws to those who are at least 18 years of age and use of crosscut saws to those who are at least 16 years of age.
  • Partner organizations, like the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the Back Country Horsemen of America, may develop their own training and certification programs that meet the requirements in the final directive.
  • Like Forest Service and other governmental employees, cooperators, volunteers and training consultants, Forest Service contractors are subject to applicable federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements governing the use of saws. However, contractors are not subject to the final saw directive because the Agency does not believe it is necessary or appropriate to track their training and certification as sawyers given their role and responsibilities as federal contractors.

More information about the policy is online.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities and approximately 66 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.  The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 900 million forested acres within the U.S., of which over 130 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.

Job Corps Celebrates 50th Anniversary

To learn more about the 50th Anniversary of Job Corps, check out the anniversary edition of their newsletter, the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center Courier. 

On Wednesday, September 17th the USDA hosted a celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of Job Corps. In attendance were students and staff from Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers in North Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado and Oregon. Each Center had a table in the USDA’s Jamie L. Whitten building to showcase some of their tools, as well as the products of their work. The displays demonstrated the variety of career training programs Job Corps offers: Schenk Job Corps exhibited tools and safety equipment used in their wilderness firefighting program; Harpers Ferry Job Corps demonstrated the software used by students in their IT training program; and students from Colorado displayed food from their farm and culinary programs. The event featured speeches from Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service; Tina Terrell, Job Corps National Director; Butch Blazer, Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment; and Meryl Harrell, Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Wooden coin engraved by Job Corps students


Job Corps 50th Anniversary poster designed by Tiffany Gottberg, a student at Timber Lake Job Corps in Oregon.

16 Members and Affiliates of The Corps Network Awarded 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Project Grants

Southwest Conservation Corps works on improving a trail. Among several projects, they were awarded a grant to partner with the Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service to make improvements to the Historic Railroad Trail at Hoover Dam.

For Immediate Release
May 22, 2014

USDA Newsletter Story Highlights How Deaf Montana Conservation Corps Member became Forest Service Employee

In the USDA's April newsletter, the agency highlighted Joanel Lopez's participation in the Bridging Cultures Conservation Corps program that was launched by Montana Conservation Corps and Region 1 of the U.S. Forest Service.

It's a fantastic example of how "the program is great for people from diverse backgrounds and cultures to face dealing with different perspectives." The digital version of the story can be read on page 3 of the linked PDF.