In the recent article detailing the Forest Service and the chain saw exemption (“Forest Service sued over decision to use chain saws in wilderness areas,” May 22), retired Forest Service employee Anne Dal Vera is quoted stating that 10 people with cross-cut saws cut 3,000 trees.
While certainly possible, the time for this accomplishment was not mentioned, and it is likely that this was accomplished over an entire summer cutting season.
In 2018, the Pagosa Ranger District trail crews augmented with a Southwest Conservation Corps trail crew and other Forest service partners also cleared 3,000 trees with hand tools.
This effort resulted in opening only 50% of the system trail miles in the Pagosa Ranger District.
Unfortunately, this is the second year running that only 50% of the trail miles were opened. The Pagosa Ranger District estimates that 9,000 trees will have fallen over system trails this past winter and will continue to do so for the next five to eight years.
It’s not hard to see that trees are coming down three times faster than they can be removed in any given cutting season. According to Dal Vera, it would only take 30 people with hand tools to manage the job. Great! Unfortunately, the Forest Service isn’t being allocated the funds to field the additional 20 people. In fact, a significant amount of the trail crews utilized by the Pagosa Ranger District were funded by private donations.
The Forest Service has neither the resources nor the funding to manage this problem without the utilization of new tools.