HELENA — If you go hiking out on Mount Helena this week you may hear the distant whirring of chainsaws. And if you follow this trail, you might see some of the important training being done by the Montana Conservation Corps.
“Chainsaws are crazy powerful little machines and can be super dangerous. And I think having, like, super thorough instruction and practice and constant feedback is really important to be able to safely use a saw,” says Crew Lead, Sophia Stouse.
The group of MCC team members is learning the ins and outs of safe chainsaw use. And understanding safe chainsaw use is vital to creating a space in which workers are kept as safe as possible.
“... creating safe sawyers that can make critical decisions in the field safely while they’re supervising their crew members,” says Field Coordinator, Kaitlin Raven.
Chainsaw use in the field is important for a few reasons. And these MCC team members will take these skills into the field this upcoming summer with work on projects that help reduce the risk and potential severity of wildfire. The sawyers work will also help improve habitat. For example, reducing the number of trees by eliminating smaller trees can help healthier trees grow stronger.
“It’s ensuring safety. And also having the knowledge to be able to apply it throughout this season and seasons beyond, empowering folks to continue this career, or take skills back home whether that’s for a firewooding project or a career as a wildland firefighter or on a trail crew, so they can continue to build those skills, yeah, and give back to the communities that we’re working in,” says Raven.
The piles that are formed from the felled and bucked trees are eventually set on fire during prescribed burns.