Hitch 9: Chainsaw Madness

It is true, team Jawbone is now S-212 Chainsaw Certified. Thanks to the BLM firefighters at Salt Wells Fire Station near Ridgecrest, we can do a mean job cutting up bollards out in the field. We were also were lucky enough to be joined by the Rands crew for the certification process. The course itself was filled with quirky instructional video and invigorating Powerpoint presentations. While the lectures at times took considerable mental power to maintain focus, once we busted out the saws, the time flew by.

Certification took three days and made it impractical to stay out in the field, so we had our first house hitch! While I missed seeing the sunrises, it was nice to sleep in a bed and wake up at the astonishingly late time of 7:00am. We also took advantage of being in the house house by making breakfasts of pancakes, French toast and glazed orange scones.

Chainsaw certification happened in the middle of the week. The first two days of hitch were spent doing community outreach. We joined the Rands crew and members of the BLM to inform the public of the legal trails in the Rands Mountain Management area. We sat at various stations at entrances of the limited use areas of the park and handed out permits off highway vehicle (OHV) riders. SCA members were equipped with bright yellow vests that said we were BLM volunteers. They also had a logo on the chest to make us feel like we were super heroes. We quickly found out that OHV riders are very wary of the BLM. As soon as riders saw the yellow vests and BLM trucks, they avoided us like the plague. There were a few instances where riders would get mad at us for offering them free permits with free maps of the area but they were few and far between. It was a good experience to interact with the people that use the route system we work within, as well as interacting with employees of the BLM.

We did manage to fit in two days of restoration work out in Jawbone. It was more digging holes to put in vertical mulch (dead plants made to look like they are living to a passing OHV rider). Since we did not camp in Jawbone, we took an alternate route to and from work. This route took us through an open use area (OHV riders ride where ever they want) versus the limited use area that we normally work in (OHV riders can only ride on legal routes). The environmental impact on open use areas is astonishing. There were trails covering every conceivable space like a flood had surged through the area. It showed me the importance of limited use areas and our work with the SCA.

- Andy