Drew YoungeDyke, Field Manager Drew YoungeDyke, Field Manager
The chainsaw is my favorite habitat tool. It may seem counter-intuitive that a tool used to cut down trees can be one of the most effective for wildlife habitat, but that’s exactly what it is. On OTG projects, we use chainsaws to cut out invasive trees and hinge-cut trees that would be more productive for wildlife as a living brush pile. We use them to open up canopies so that young browse can grow, and we use them to regenerate aspen stands to keep them forever young.
But chainsaws are dangerous. If you have a tool capable of cutting through wood like butter, it doesn’t take much imagination to think of what it can do to a person in an accident. As chainsaw safety instructor Chuck Oslund points out, it’s the most dangerous tool in existence that any person can walk into a store and buy without any training whatsoever.
Now, I’ve been running chainsaws for a long time. From clearing out sumac for a horse arena growing up to trimming trees along two-track natural gas access roads, I had practical chainsaw experience well before I came to MUCC. But that doesn’t mean I had proper training. And that’s probably a similar story for many volunteers who want to help out on public land for wildlife habitat.

So that’s why we’re hosting a free chainsaw safety training this Saturday at the MUCC office in Lansing from 9am to 5pm. It will be taught by Oslund, who provides these free seminars as part of a grant from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MiOSHA). Oslund has developed a comprehensive chainsaw safety system through his years of experience, including with the United States Forest Service.
Personally, I’m really excited for this training. I know it will help me, and I know it will make every volunteer who attends safer in the field. We make sure that any volunteer who operates a chainsaw on OTG projects is experienced and comfortable operating one safely and properly equipped with the right gear, but this added training is strongly encouraged for anyone who can make it. You can never be too safe in the field.
You can help us purchase more chainsaw safety equipment, too, by donating to our IndieGoGo crowd-funding account supported by Outdoor Life Magazine’s Open Country program. You could even get a cool water bottle or survival manual for donating!
And one week later, we’ll be applying what we’ve learned on the ground for wildlife habitat. On January 24, we’re gathering at the Grayling DNR Field Office at 9am to cut trees and make horizontal cover for snowshoe hares in the Grayling State Forest.
A recent study by researchers from Michigan State University confirmed that horizontal cover is a key habitat need for snowshoe hares. This helps them hide from predators like coyotes and hawks. Horizontal cover is created when trees fall down. And when they don’t fall down on their own, you can help them along with, you guessed it, a chainsaw.
Join us this Saturday for the chainsaw safety training by clicking here: CHAINSAW SAFETY TRAINING, and for the January 24 snowshoe hare project by clicking here: GRAYLING SNOWSHOE HARE.
In the meantime, I’m going to be sharpening saw blades, stocking up on bar & chain oil, and rocking out to The Band Perry. “I’ve got my chainsaw…”

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