In light of the damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaias, we thought a discussion of how Groton Open Space Association (GOSA) handles tree damage would be timely. Chainsaws are powerful tools, but also very dangerous for untrained workers. Proper chainsaw usage also includes full head protection, chaps and strong boots. Since Hurricane Irene, GOSA has been using Stihl Kombi motors with the polesaw attachment.
Polesaws offer several advantages over regular chainsaws. First, it is almost impossible for the operator to cut themselves since the ten inch chain is six feet away. However, other people could be cut so “Social Distancing” was first invented for polesaws. Second, the range for cutting is 12-14 feet without moving your feet. With a regular chainsaw, cut what you can reach, lock the chain, and find a new spot to move to. In the mean time the polesaw keeps cutting. The polesaw is very effective for 3-4 inch branches. It can do bigger, but at some point the chainsaw is more productive.
The polesaw also is very effective for other uses. We cut bittersweet close to the ground and then 10 feet up. New sprouts cannot easily reach that gap. It is also effective at reaching into Multifloral Rose, cutting a branch and then pulling it out with a cultivator hand tool.
In the last year GOSA has started to move to battery powered saws. We use the Makita reciprocating saw with a carbide tipped 9 inch wood cutting blade. It is good for 3-4 inch branches and can hit the ground without instantly dulling like all chainsaws do.
GOSA has chainsaws with bars from 12 to 24 inches, and several of us have gone through the Game of Logging training sessions, but we generally reach for the alternatives to chainsaws first. We highly recommend these alternatives when possible.