Chainsaw Class Aids Hawaii Refuges

December 2009

Clearing invasive trees from a ditch supplying water to critical wetlands and taro fields became a learning opportunity for 16 employees from national wildlife refuges in the Hawaiian islands.  As part of the hands-on exercises during a nationally sanctioned course in Wildland Fire Chainsaws, all of the students fell trees and bucked logs to improve refuge irrigation.

The week-long instruction included chainsaw safety, operations, maintenance, and procedures for effectively using power saws to accomplish refuge management tasks. Three instructors, all firefighters from national wildlife refuges in Washington, along with a chainsaw expert from the State of Hawaii Department of Forestry, partnered to teach the required skills based on national interagency wildland fire standards. Upon completion of the course, all of the participants were officially certified to operate a chainsaw.

The training was held at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Kauai. The wetlands at Hanalei refuge are used to grow 80 percent of the taro, a staple crop, consumed on the Hawaiian islands.  The refuge maintains the wetlands and grows the taro plants to support an ecological niche for five endangered Hawaiian waterbirds.  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire program continually strives to maintain safety standards and provide support to refuges in Hawaii. Training in fire management and safety will continue on the islands as the Service’s fire program in Hawaii evolves over the next few years.

USFWS firefighter Adam Ackerman teaches chainsaw maintenance.  Doug Frederick, USFWS

USFWS firefighter Adam Ackerman teaches chainsaw maintenance. Doug Frederick, USFWS

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