Crosscut saw use is known to many as a dying art. To Rocky Mountain Youth Corps’ Fall Crew, crosscuts were an essential tool. With projects in wilderness areas far off the beaten path, the crew learned to make saws sing. After being certified by Forest Service staff in Class A Bucking procedures, the crew engaged in a month of trail clearing in the Pecos Wilderness. The project was made possible through funding from Title II of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. With significant logistical and training support from the Española Ranger District, the crew successfully completed difficult project tasks while learning important wilderness skills.
The crew organized pack-ins with all of their necessary gear, tools, and food and received pack support from the US Forest Service. After setting up camp five miles from the trailhead and many miles from the nearest facilities, the crew got to work in re-establishing trails that had been affected by blowdown and erosion. The crew’s work included trail and corridor clearing on 10 miles of previously impassable trails throughout the Pecos Wilderness. Axe and saw teams worked to clear 200 logs from the trail corridor, installed dozens cairns and trail markers, and maintained tread. As the crew opened up trails for backpackers, day hikers, and horseback riders, they received praise and were thanked for their hard work. Members of the public were very encouraged to see young people engaged in conservation work. As a crew, they learned wilderness skills and discussed how aspects of teamwork and leadership contribute to successful relationships. Through experience they learned the pitfalls of miscommunication and choose to create a code of ethics which included the values of personal responsibility and accountability. The combination of service work and teambuilding was a powerful experience and will have a long-lasting impact on their personal and professional lives.