UWSP Forestry Students Get Unique Experience Cutting Trees

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? While the answer to that conundrum is still debated, some local students were practicing making trees fall safely.

It may seem simple, but University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point Associate Professor of Forestry, Les Werner said there's a science to cutting down trees.

"There is a process and there are laws that govern how trees should be fallen, how they will move and respond to the things that we're doing," he said.

UWSP Forestry students got a unique opportunity to not only learn the latest technique to fell a tree, but to practice it over the weekend.

"We're giving them the outdoor, hands-on, in the environment, the nitty-gritty, the real world, this is the way it's done and exposing them to new methods that will improve their safety and productivity out here," said Husqvarna National Training Specialist, Cary Shepherd.

Professionals like Shepherd and seven UWSP alumni, now working in the field, took on two to three students, which allowed each student to fell about five dead trees themselves over the weekend at the Stevens Point Country Club.

"It's always fun to have somebody else watching you that has a lot of experience," UWSP Forestry Student, Joe Huber said. "Once you get into a rhythm you tend not to see how you do different things, so having somebody else watch is always a plus."

"You learn I think both ways, from cutting and watching people," said another Forestry Student Anna Lewandowski. "I'm learning just as much watching other people fell trees and you can stop and ask questions even if you're not cutting."

The technique they're using involves making a hinge so they can control where and when the tree fells.

"We set that up first by making a notch and plunging or barring in the chainsaw here and cutting up to this point where we create this hinge-wood and then we move the saw back and leave a strap back here," Werner said.

Then, using a wedge, they can knock the tree down and make a safe escape.

These were dead trees that needed to be taken down. Werner said he hope these trees will either be used at the paper mill or for fuel. Either way, golfers can look forward to a new course at the Stevens Point Country Club as the weather warms up.

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