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VA Chapter Chainsaw Safety Training

Virginia Chapter volunteers practice their newly acquired skills by culling trees at the Stony Brook Orchard.

Over the years, The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) has grown from a small and somewhat relaxed organization, into a relatively large and more professional one. While we appreciate having a bigger role in the world of conservation organizations, we must also embrace the responsibilities that come with it; responsibilities such as safe working conditions, adequate training, and taking necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our members and volunteers.

In an effort to stay ahead of the game, the Virginia Chapter has recently adopted a Safe Practices Manual that serves as an aid for leaders to prepare and manage work events, minimizing the occurrence of accidents and chapter liability. Bucket trucks, ladders, and chainsaws, which are often used by staff and volunteers, require special attention and training before operation. Enter Matt Brinckman.

Most members and volunteers will remember that Matt was the Mid-Atlantic Regional Science Coordinator from 2012 to 2016, and many may be aware that Matt has a background in forestry. He’s also skilled in chainsaw training! So, when the Virginia Chapter decided to train its volunteers on basic chainsaw safety, we were thrilled that Matt volunteered to lead the training.

Tom Saielli cuts down a tree at the orchard.

On January 20, Matt and myself, along with eight Virginia Chapter members met at the Stony Brook orchard in Virginia for the safety course. We began at the Stony Brook barn; it was a sunny and warm day for mid-January. Matt began with a review of chainsaw maintenance and the required personal protective gear, accessory tools and equipment, and first aid kits which should always be accessible when operating a chainsaw. Matt then demonstrated the safest and most efficient ways to cut down and buck trees. Following the presentation and demonstration, the group made its way to the Stony Brook orchard to practice one of our newly acquired skills – culling.

At the end of the day, about 140 trees had been culled, volunteers were satisfied, and Matt (after some bribing) gave everyone a passing grade! These hard-working VA Chapter members are now ready to get out there and cull more orchards. And with these new skillsets, we can ensure that our chainsaw-wielding members can cull orchards in the safest and most efficient manner possible.

From Matt Brinckman:
“Thanks for having me out for a fun day of chainsaws and chestnuts. Below are links to the VA SHARP Logger Program online trainings I helped put together at Virginia Tech. If you are going to watch both, I suggest watching them in the order below. Let me know if you have any questions or need any assistance in the future.”