News Release

Forest Service Seeks Public Comment on a Proposed Policy for Training and Certification of Use of Saws by Forest Service Employees, Volunteers

Proposed policy does not apply to contractors, holders of special use permits, and others including private firewood cutters

June 18, 2015 -

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on a proposal that would establish a national policy providing consistent oversight and training on the use of saws by employees, consultants and volunteers on lands managed by the agency. The proposal does not apply to groups including contractors, special use permit holders or private firewood cutters.

“Our first priority is safety,” said Leslie Weldon, deputy chief for the agency’s National Forest System. “The proposed national policy would ensure that our employees and partners are trained consistently, to help us complete critical work on our national forests in a safe manner.”

Since the 1970s, the agency’s nine regions have developed policies concerning employee and partner use of chain saws and crosscut saws, which are often used for trail maintenance activities and other work on national forests. The proposed national policy would create a national saw program and standardize instruction, knowledge and skill requirements for all Forest Service sawyers. The policy would also provide consistent national direction on the training, certification and safe use of chainsaws and crosscut saws by Forest Service employees, volunteers, partners, and training consultants who work on National Forest System lands.

Comments from the public will be accepted until Aug. 17, 2015.

The new policy would also improve access to skill pools and promote partnering opportunities with volunteer groups and partner organizations to address trail maintenance needs across National Forest System lands. It applies to all saw activities on National Forest System lands by Forest Service employees, volunteers, sawyer training consultants, and cooperating agencies as specified in their agreements with the Forest Service. The proposed policy does not apply to contractors, holders of special use permits, cooperating agencies working with the Forest Service on fire management and disaster relief activities, and private firewood cutting activities. 

The Forest Service also plans to develop a National Sawyer Database to be used to track national sawyer certifications for those who have met the training and evaluation requirements in the use of the saws.  Certifications will be recognized across the National Forest System.

The mission of the Forest Service, part 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 20 percent of the Nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.