Saw Policy

US Forest Service National Saw Policy: Resources for Cooperators

Documents and Resources

  • USFS Saw Policy website: 
  • USFS Saw Policy, effective July 2016 (PDF)
  • USFS Saw Operations Guide v 1.3.2, effective February 2017 (PDF)
  • Volunteer and Cooperator Groups and the USFS Saw Policy (PDF)
  • USFS National Sawyer Certification Card template (PDF)
  • USFS Crosscut Saw Evaluation form (PDF)
  • USFS Chain Saw Evaluation form (PDF)
  • USFS Chain Saw Incident Report form (PDF)
  • USFS National Saw Program Technical Advisory Group Members (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who are cooperators?

Cooperator: An individual or entity that voluntarily enters into a challenge cost share, participating, collection, or other agreement with the Forest Service to work on a project under FSM 1580.5 and FSH 1509.11, section 91.2, other than another agency working with the Forest Service on fire management activities (FSH 1509.11, ch. 50).

Members of The Corps Network like the Student Conservation Association and other youth corps organizations, and partners like the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards and Pacific Crest Trail Association are examples of cooperators working with the Forest Service.

2. Can cooperators issues cards for agency employees?

The process for certification is currently under review.

3. How are cooperator training programs approved?

All new and existing cooperator programs will require review to determine if they comply with the new directive. The process for review has been established in the Forest Service Saw Operations Guide (FSSOG) which will be issued at the same time as the directive.

How Partners, Cooperators, or Volunteers submit training programs for consideration as Nationally Recognized Sawyer Training Courses (NRSTCs):

  • Volunteers operating under Forest Service volunteer agreements (OF-301a) will follow the same requirements as agency employees (this includes challenge cost share agreements where Forest Service volunteer agreements are being used in tandem).
    • Volunteer partner organizations that operate under Forest Service volunteer agreements may also submit training, evaluation and certification programs for consideration as NRSTCs.
  • For cooperators and partners, including cooperators and partners who use their own participants and their own volunteers, revise, align or review existing cooperative agreement(s) to meet standards in FSM 2358.03 (3).
  • For cooperators and partners, including cooperators and partners who use their own participants and volunteers, develop a training package and/or certification standards to meet the standards identified in FSM 2358.
    • Develop a table listing the authorities and any delegations necessary similar to FSM 2358.04 Exhibit 01. These authorities must align with language found in the FSM 1580 agreement (FSM 1509.11 sec. 91.2).
    • Describe the responsibility of each position within the organization’s saw program similar to FSM 2358.04a-2358.04m.
    • All Partners, Cooperators, or Volunteer organizations who receive approval for new training courses/programs will be required to use the National Sawyer Certification Database when it becomes available.
    • Definitions for critical terms must be developed if they differ from those found in FSM 2358.05.
    • Follow or develop similar qualification standards identified in FSM 2358.06, 2358.1 Exhibit 02 and 2358.3 Exhibit 06.
    • Follow or develop similar responsibilities and limitations, training, knowledge and skills to meet each skill level identified in FSM 2358.1.
    • Follow or develop similar sawyer training and field proficiency evaluation standards identified in FSM 2358.2.
    • Follow or develop similar revocation procedure identified in FSM 2358.22.
    • Follow or develop similar program monitoring and evaluation procedures identified in FSM 2358.3.
    • Follow or develop similar sawyer evaluation forms identified in FSM 23358.3 Exhibit 03 and 04.
    • Develop an incident and accident tracking and notification system.

How the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) reviews submitted NRSTCs:

  • The National Saw Program Manager is the main contact for partners’, cooperators ‘and volunteer organizations’ submission of NRSTCs for review by the TAG.
  • The TAG will select a subcommittee to review each submittal and make recommendations to the National Saw Program Manager.


  • The National Saw Program Manager is the responsible authority who will approve each NRSTC that meets the qualifications in FSM 2358.
  • Cooperators who have training programs in place will receive priority review over new requests.

4. What are the First Aid/CPR requirements for sawyers?

First Aid and CPR are required for all sawyers except for crosscut saw trainees who are operating under the supervision of another sawyer. OSHA states in Appendix B of 1910.266 that First Aid and CPR training shall be conducted using the conventional methods of training such as lecture, demonstration, practical exercise and examination (both written and practical). The length of training must be sufficient to assure that trainees understand the concepts of first aid and can demonstrate their ability to perform the various procedures. A sawyer must take First Aid/CPR classes which are taught hands-on and with a knowledge test. Online First Aid/CPR courses do not meet these requirements.

5. What is the minimum age for sawyers?

Chain saw sawyers must be at least 18 years of age (29 CFR Part 570, Subpart E). Crosscut sawyers must be at least 16 years of age.  The agency recognizes the opportunity to foster a new generation of trail stewards and crosscut saw use is essential to trail maintenance. The final policy is consistent with Department of Labor policy pertaining to youth and crosscut saw use.

6.  Does the Forest Service have a position to oversee implementation of the National Saw Policy?

A.  Yes. Pete Duncan has been selected as the Forest Service National Saw Program Manager. Contact Pete at

7. What exactly do agencies need from volunteer and cooperating partners to prove they are in compliance with national policy?

Volunteer and cooperator sawyers must meet the standards in FSM 2358.1 Exhibit 02, be evaluated successfully and be issued the credential in FSM 2358.3 Exhibit 6. In order to comply with these standards their sawyers can be trained, evaluated and certified by the Forest Service under the same standards. Alternately, cooperators can train, evaluate and certify their own sawyers if they have met the standards in FSM 2358.1 Exhibit 02, and have followed the approval process in section 1.6 of the FSSOG. Cooperator evaluators must be approved by the Regional Saw Program Manager as identified in FSM2358.04g while meeting the standards in FSM 2358.1 Exhibit 02.

Per agreement clauses, it is up to the cooperating partner to ensure that its employees, participants and volunteers are in compliance with any required Forest Service policies. The Forest Service does not need to see or require written documentation or copies of saw certifications, as that is the responsibility of the cooperating partner to ensure.  When the national database is operational, names of individuals who have been certified will be required to be entered into the database at that time.

Volunteers operating under a Forest Service volunteer agreement (Form OF-301a) must be currently certified to operate saws on National Forest System Lands. Local volunteer agreement administrators or Agency contacts can request validation of certification if needed, and/or check names in the National Database when it is operational.  When the national database is operational, names of those individuals who have been certified will be required to be entered into the database.