March Saws & Slaws News

by Heather Hanson /  Jody Dickson

Did you know the prolonged prevention of wildfires, since the Big Burn in 1910 of Wallace, Idaho, exacerbated the threat of hotter burning, more impactful, deadly megafires?  As explained by photo journalist and wildfire researcher Michael Kodas, prevention has resulted in dangerously over fueled forests. With forty times the flammable vegetation forests had before the suppression of fires became a fifty year norm, forest conditions have been created that foster the megafires we see more prevalent, and threatening, every year.

Different types of forests naturally experience vastly different incidents of fire. While a lodge pole pine forest will naturally have a 2-300 year event. A Ponderosa pine forest will average an event every 2-10 years. When acreage burns, the soil is revitalized and trees use these events to reproduce. For a type of tree that experiences more frequent events, the potential for explosive fuel is exponential. It is this reason that we, around the sixties and seventies, started introducing prescribed burns in an effort to rebalance the wildfire equation.

Post zero wildfire tolerance, the average amount of acreage burned since the 1970s has more than tripled, Kodas advises we are better served considering the impacts of a fire beyond this measure. Impacts such as contaminated watersheds, monetary costs, loss of homes, and lost lives both human and animal. In his CU On The Weekend lecture “Learning to Live with Megafires” last month, Kodas identified four major factors thwarting efforts to reduce the impact of wildfires as climate, land management, development, and political and economic decisions. Kodas explains that fires should be thought of as a weather event rather than a disaster. With one-third of all US Homes in the Wildland Urban Interface, it is an event we should expect, and prepare to withstand.

Safety Tip of the Month: Watch YouTube for what NOT to do!

For most things that people want to learn how to do, I enthusiastically refer people to YouTube.  There is a video for how to do everything.  However, based on what I’ve seen, I recommend being VERY selective on which videos to watch about operating a chainsaw or felling trees.  There are many, many, many videos on YouTube of people not being safe while operating a chainsaw.  IF no damage is done in the video, then they were lucky.  So consider the source and the context before deciding if the video is a good tool for learning about safe operation of a chainsaw.  One of the first things I look for is if the people in the video are wearing safety equipment.  If not, I think it would be safe to say that they are amateurs and not the best example for learning from.  If the video is published by one of the chainsaw manufacturers who want to ensure that you operate their equipment safely, then you can trust it a lot more. Needless to say, the best thing to do is to take a class and get trained by professionals on how to maintain and safely operate a chainsaw, as well as fell, limb and buck trees.  (I admit that is shameless self-promotion!!)

March Events

RESERVE YOUR SPOT: Chainsaw Skills & Safety Class

We have confirmed April 6th and 7th for our annual Chainsaw Skills and Safety class.  This is a two-day course featuring a classroom introduction, saw maintenance and field work.  Even experienced sawyers said they have learned from this class.  This class is REQUIRED if you are interested in becoming a sawyer at a Saws & Slaws event.  Thanks to a generous grant from United Power, the per student fee has been reduced from $250 to $150 per student.  These fees cover the costs of the instructors and insurance for the two-day class.  SPACE IS LIMITED, so if you are interested, reserve your spot online through our website or Facebook page or contact Jody Dickson,, 303-588-6639.  For a limited number of students, there is an opportunity to work off the fees of the class at Saws and Slaws events.  Contact Jody for more information.

2019 Season Applications Now Open

Saws and Slaws is now taking applications for neighborhood events for 2019. Now is the time to talk to your neighbors about getting on the schedule for next Spring and Summer. Get out, connect with those in your proximity, and vow to get your properties safer and healthier. Got questions? Call Us! (303) 642-0273. .

Saws and Slaws is a 501(c)3 organization committed to Building Stronger Communities Through A Healthier Forest. Find out more at and Join Us!