Chevalier receives a national honor
Forty-four percent of the land on the McKenzie River Ranger District is designated Wilderness. Within those areas power tools are prohibited. How to keep 260 miles of trails clear of fallen trees? Reach for a cross-cut saw. That’s what Wayne Chevalier, Wilderness Trail Crew Leader (who covers the Three Sisters and Mount Washington wildernesses) has been doing for over 22 years.
For his continued efforts to use traditional tools, he was chosen for the Traditional Skills and Minimum Tool Leadership Award, part of the Forest Service’s 2012 National Wilderness Awards.
“Without a team, it’s not happening. That’s how minimum tools work,” said Chevalier, who leads a summer wilderness crew in projects such as complex bridge building, trail clearing and maintenance. Under his leadership, his trail crew has never used a motorized tool in the wilderness. “Minimum tools work with maximum spirit,” he said. “That’s the motor. And preserving the human spirit is what wilderness can do.”
Each year, he and his crew know they will be clearing miles of back country trails after winter storms have downed trees across them. While the amount of trees cut fluctuates depending on the severity of the winter, Chevalier estimates on average 1,000 trees are cut by cross cut saw each year. In 2011, after a severe winter storm, they logged out over 300 trees on the Foley Ridge trail.
“Some people may think that it’s more work to use cross cut, but after a day using the cross cut, you feel much healthier than a day running a chainsaw,” said Chevalier. “Your hands don’t tingle and your ears haven’t been bombarded by a motor running all day. You also don’t have to carry extra parts, fuel and bar oil.”
Besides teaching his summer crews the proficiencies of minimum tool use, Chevalier also teaches the art to volunteers through the annual training sessions that are held in Westfir.
“These tools are safe, quiet and effective,” said Chevalier. “And the Forest Service is one of the few agencies that use them. We need to keep it up, and continue to teach others how to use them.”
McKenzie River Reflections