Volunteer Sawyers In Action

What is a Volunteer Sawyer?

Each year thousands of trees, most of them killed a decade ago by the pine bark beetle, fall across trails in the Eagles Nest, Holy Cross, and Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness Areas, blocking access and causing users to create destructive social trails around them.


ESWA’s sawyers coordinate with the USFS to clear those trees.  In 2020 alone, ESWA sawyers cut and removed over 400 trees that had fallen across Wilderness trails.


Because chain saws (and other motorized equipment) are not allowed to be used in Wilderness Areas, fallen trees must be cleared by hand.  Two-person crosscut saws are used for the bigger trees, while one-person saws, like a Katana, can be used for smaller trees. Either way, it carries risks for the sawyer. Fallen trees can retain a lot of potential energy, especially if they are pinned against other trees or natural objects.  When a tree is cut, this stored energy is released, which can cause the tree to rebound in unexpected and potentially dangerous ways.


To protect sawyers, the USFS requires that any crew include at least one certified sawyer. Sawyer certification is granted to people who take a safety course, which is offered free of charge several times each year. Other members of the sawyer crew do not require such certification.

How to Get Involved and Help

  • ESWA is always looking for new recruits to take the crosscut and safety training, and for other volunteers to assist the trained sawyers during sawyer outings.  If you are interested in taking the training or joining a sawyer trip, email us at info@eaglesummitwilderness.org.


  • Check the Calendar on the Home Page for upcoming sawyer trips and how to sign up.