"Please tell Ken Palmer we really appreciated him and all that you folks back east did for North Dakota, and that I personally heard many positive comments on his presentation skills and arborist knowledge. Ken is an asset to the arboriculture industry. The sharing of his knowledge with practicing arborists is helping advance the professionalism of this industry in leaps and bounds. I hope he has success and good fortune in all of his future endeavors. Take care."
Daniel Webster defines an accident as an unplanned event. So, to avoid accidents, plan! When felling trees, it is vital to have and use a felling plan. A five-step felling plan that incorporates up-to-date cutting methods is widely used by professional chain saw operators worldwide. Using it will help you to achieve successful results consistently. 1. Identify height and hazards –. Look for tree defects, decay, heavy lean, electrical conductors, or any other characteristics of the tree that may affect the felling plan. Consider obstacles within the felling site such as structures, pavement, and outdoor furnishings. Some can be moved if necessary, others will have to be avoided. Assess the strength and direction of the wind. Decide on the felling direction. 2. Assess the side lean – This often determines whether or not the hinge will hold and it also determines the “good” and “bad” sides of the tree for the feller to stand when making the final cut. 3. Escape route – Always think about your escape route before you begin the felling operation. The escape route should be at a 45-degree angle opposite the felling direction. Be sure your escape route is clear of obstacles or hazards before beginning. 4. Hinge plan – The face notch and hinge are critical to safe, accurate, consistent results. Plan the size, depth, and placement of the notch. Determine the desired thickness and length of the hinge. 5. Back cut technique – The back cut is often taken for granted, yet is often the cause of felling accidents. Forward or back lean may determine what kind of back cut you will use: the straight forward back cut or the bore cut. The degree of forward or back lean will determine how many wedges and/or whether a pull rope will be necessary and how much power may be required to pull the tree over. Remember that if the tree is too thin there may not be enough wood for a notch, hinge, bore cut, and back/holding strap. In that case it will be necessary to use ‘the straight forward back cut’. Remember to finish the felling cut on the “good” side of the tree and use your escape route as soon as the tree begins to fall. For more information, check out our series of articles on Chainsaw Safety and Techniques.