Crosscut Saw Training

For many years a group of dedicated volunteers, based primarily in Tucson, has kept the Arizona Trail, and others, free of deadfall, a major maintenance chore on the Arizona Trail.  To do this safely, the Forest Service requires that everyone is trained and certified every three years; 2018 was the year.

Zac Ribbing, an enthusiastic crosscut saw aficionado now with the Sierra Vista Ranger District, has offered the training for many years, most recently October 26 at Rustler’s Park in the Chiricahua’s. Rustlers Parks is a prime location for the training because, sadly, it burned several years ago and there is a constant supply of deadfall on the nearby trails.  Six AZT volunteers attended and received the required certification.

Following a couple hours of classroom (or in this case, group campsite) presentation of policy, procedure, and technical saw information, the group loaded up and hiked a short distance up the trail to the “targets” which were in ample supply.  Each participant takes his or her turn assessing the log, determining the hazards and appropriate mitigation, and planning and directing the work necessary to remove it.  Then the crew goes to work.  By mid-afternoon everyone had taken their turn.  Some of the group headed home; others stayed for more advanced tree-felling training Saturday.

The Arizona Trail Association extends a big “thank you” to Zac for keeping us trained and safe.  This was at least the forth saw training session he has provided, as well as supporting the Arizona Trail for many years.


David (in blue) drew the first tree, a “biggun.”

Getting started, Tracy and Zac cleaning up the limbs. Burned over Rustler Park campground in the background.

The wedges keep the log open and prevent it from pinching the saw.

Making progress. Everyone got several turns pulling on the saws.


First cut complete. As David predicted, the rest of the log rolled off the trail.


Second cut complete, and the log off the trail.

Zac is quite skilled in keeping the saws sharp and tuned. Note the noodles of wood curled in the gullets, a sure sign of a super-tuned crosscut!