Moorcroft Leader - The Voice of the Community Since 1909, Serving Moorcroft and Pine Haven, Wyoming

Chainsaws in Pine Haven

 

March 24, 2022

Grace Moore

The Montana Conservation crew takes a breather during a long day of clearing ladder fuels from around the trees.

The 22-person Montana Conservation crew has split into two teams with one working in the classroom and the other on the ground in Pine Haven, clearing the area between the bigger trees. This is done so that ladder fuels won't carry the fire up the trunks of those trees to create "crown" fires at the top that can jump from crown to crown quickly and cannot be fought from the ground.

These crown fires can only be conquered from the air.

Residents could hear the chainsaws Monday morning as the first 13-person crew of the week worked in the timber on the end of Elm Street in Pine Haven, busily cutting branches before taking a breather in the cool weather.

"We've put a lot on the ground," crew leader Kaitlin Raven explained the operation, "but we're dragging it to where we have a chipper going, which will reduce the fuel load and we're raking it out as we go so it also adds nutrients back to the soil."

She said the reason for clearing this time of the year is to prevent insects and disease, which are dormant right now, from spreading to neighboring healthy trees as their current abode is cleared away.

Grace Moore

Crew leaders Kaitlin Raven and Dillon Pride.

The conservation groups who come to Pine Haven and similar sites are actually students, serving as part of AmeriCorp.

"They're out here," Raven advocated the volunteers' efforts, "trying to gain skills to lead crews this summer to serve Montana, Idaho and Wyoming mostly, also South Dakota, parts of North Dakota and Nebraska to improve public lands for public use."

Each student spends approximately 60 hours within the two weeks allotted (in this instance, March 14-March 24) on the ground, but in that time several acres are cleared.

This particular student body has about seven months left of training including an apprenticeship; this is called their term of service. Over all, this team comes from Bozeman, MT, but a few staff members from the park are assisting.

 
 

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