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Forest Employee Recognized For Wilderness Work
Updated November 18, 2014 12:24 PM | Filed under: Natural Resources
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Part of the crew that received the award.
trees down.jpg
Rod Fahl working through the thick downed trees left behind by Hurricane Sandy to clear trails in West Virginia.

(BEDFORD) - Rod Fahl, Wilderness Ranger on the Hoosier National Forest, has received the Traditional Skills and Minimum Tool Leadership Award for the second time in his career.

This group award was presented to Fahl for his work on the Monongahela National Forest in 2013 after Hurricane Sandy.

The award was presented during the National Wilderness Conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Monongahela employee Matt Edwards, accepted the award on behalf of all the Monongahela team.

Fahl, and the other members of the team worked on clearing trails on the Monongahela National Forest after Hurricane Sandy worked through large, tangled timber, for great distances, in remote areas using only traditional tools.

Given the extent of the damage brought on by Sandy, it would have been possible to request an exemption from the Wilderness policy and used chainsaws to clear the trails.

However, the team chose to honor Wilderness values and use traditional tools and skills in the spirit of Wilderness. Men and women like Rod Fahl were brought in to help accomplish this task. Forest Service crosscut sawyers, and axe men and women did the work the hard way.

Approximately 120 miles of trails, most of which were in five designated wilderness areas, were impacted as downed trees, broken branches, and broken tops blocked the trails.

Twelve FS employees from six National Forests, and four Regions, spent six weeks clearing the mess in challenging conditions.

For much of the 120 miles of trails, the only way to move ahead was to crawl and climb through the mess of debris. In many locations, the only sign of a trail was a brief glimpse of the tread underneath the limbs and branches. By the time the crews left, it was once again possible to hike these trails.

At the National Wilderness Conference 50th Anniversary Celebration, select employees, teams, and forests were recognized for their efforts in managing wilderness. The 12-person team which included Fahl received the Traditional Skills and Minimum Tool Leadership Award for using the hand-tool only approach to clearing trails in Wilderness following the hurricane.

Fahl previously received this award in 2011 on the Hoosier for his work with Stacy Duke, Dave Morris, Bruce Whittredge and seasonal employees on the Martin Hollow Reroute in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness.

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