Lessons learned in the forest through equipment training at Penn State DuBois
DuBois - Six wildlife technology students at Penn State DuBois recently completed 12 hours of training in chainsaw safety and tree felling at Moshannon State Forest as part of their course in silviculture - the study of trees and forestry.
The training was offered in a joint effort among Penn State DuBois assistant professor of forestry Andrew Bartholomay, University Park senior research specialist Lee Stover, Bob Clark, head of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' forest fire academy, and Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry Moshannon State Forest District Manager Bob Merrill.
The students specifically worked to cut 50-year-old aspen in order to regenerate the tree species. This is the first time this type of training has been offered at Penn State DuBois, although Stover regularly provides training through Penn State Cooperative Extension. Stover provided the latest equipment in cutting and safety for the students to use, including Stihl chainsaws, chaps and other personal protection equipment.
Graduates from the Penn State wildlife technology program may seek careers in environmental remediation, the Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or as a private consultant, Bartholomay said, so working with a chainsaw is inevitable. Students completing the training included Chad McKenrick, Josh Snedden, Steve Ferreri, Mark Radaker, Ben Nixon and Will Smith.
"They might be asked to develop an environmentally sound stream crossing or remove invasive species. They will also do a lot of habitat development using chainsaws to promote browse and cover for certain wildlife species," Bartholomay said. "On the tech level, it's a lot of physical work."
The students also learned how to aim a hinge while cutting a tree in order to have it fall in a certain direction, as well as the use of wedges to fell against a back lean and side lean, Bartholomay added. Bore cutting was also taught, a method that allows the cutter to maintain control of the tree until he or she decides to let it fall.
"The chainsaw safety course was well worth my time, and I gained a lot from the course," Radaker said. "The instructors did an excellent job teaching us the proper safety and techniques for running a chainsaw." Radaker added that the instruction was not only a good skill to know, but also would become something applicable to a future career in habitat development.
According to Nixon, who plans to be a forester, he has already begun to implement the skills he learned during the class.
"I work at BWP Hardwoods and I use my skills learned from this class to correctly cut the butts off of logs as a part of my job," Nixon said. "Dr. Bartholomay went out of his way to arrange this course and I greatly appreciate his efforts."
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