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Trail Maintenance The Smart Way with Kris Sutten

Cody Sovis | Published on 7/8/2023

If you're enjoying the exceptional conditions on the Cadillac Pathway, you have Kris and other CP volunteers to thank. It takes a swarm of helping hands to build, maintain and protect non-motorized trails like the Pathway, and a well-organized maintenance plan keeps everyone safe, too. 

We asked Kris to share her thoughts about tackling trail issues and what trail users should know before they get their hands dirty. 

Trail Work: What to Know (and Who to Contact!) 


“What do I do if there’s a tree down on the trail?” is one of the more common questions received by trail crews and “Friends of” groups. The answer? It’s always best to contact the trail coordinator before doing anything, especially if power tools may be involved.

In general, if it’s fully on the trail (not dangling overhead) and can be moved or cut with a hand saw or loppers, you can have at it. If, however, it’s big enough to need power tools, you’ll need to contact the trail coordinator who will assign it to the dedicated trail crew. You can usually get the trail coordinator through the trail’s Facebook page, the area’s Facebook Trail Conditions page, or through the web page of the managing group. When contacting the trail coordinator, please include a good picture of the tree and  a description of the location on the trail and/or GPS coordinates. This helps the crew be completely prepared for the job.

“Why Can’t I Just Go Out and Cut It?”

Most land owners/managers (like the US Forest Service) require that only certified and properly equipped people use chainsaws on trails built on land under their management. The trail group often has an agreement with the land owner that requires these people undergo training, certification, online education, and to have signed waivers and emergency contact information on file in case of accidents. Failure to hold to those agreements can mean loss of trail privileges for everyone.

So….What Kind of Training Is Required?

Trail workers for the North Country Trail who wish to use a chainsaw are required to undergo First Aid and CPR training every 2 years; participate in 16 hours of hands-on chainsaw training every 3 years and demonstrate competence in using the safety equipment and saw, keeping the saw in good shape, and directing other crew members; they must also complete the online Trail Safe training series, sign a series of waivers, and have another trained person on hand while cutting. Other land owners/managers may not have such strict requirements, but it’s still best to leave it to those with proper training and equipment to keep everyone safe.

At NMMBA, we take great pride in addressing trail issues quickly and efficiently. We appreciate your help in spotting downed trees and other trail hazards so we can get out and handle it!