At the end of 2022, SAWS won two more awards from our partners at the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and the U.S. Forest Service. Potomac Appalachian Trail Club surprised SAWS with the PATC Appreciation Award for the third year in a row. We've been helping PATC volunteers on the North River Ranger District on the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests in Virginia build skills and capacity for crosscut saw use and trail building skills and 2022 was no exception. We certified 16 volunteers in crosscut saw and ax use, increasing the club's capacity to maintain the trails in Ramseys Draft Wilderness and in the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area. We were able to provide this training with the generous support of the Community Foundation of Central Blue Ridge.
Above: PATC volunteer "underbucks" a tree during the crosscut saw certification course.
We were also honored to receive a U.S. Forest Service National Wilderness Award called the Traditional Skills and Minimum Tool Leadership Award along with our partners at the Cherokee National Forest, the Jolly Rovers, and griphoist trainers Martha Becton and Robert Fina. We undertook a complex and large stone construction project in 2021 in Bald River Gorge Wilderness, rehabilitating the first 600 feet of the Bald River trail up to the top of the iconic Bald River Falls outside of Tellico Plains, TN. Using traditional tools and rigging techniques to move stones into place, we were able to build 53 stone steps with pavers and 760 sq ft of stone retaining wall creating a sustainable path for the tens of thousands of annual visitors to the falls. This project was funded by the Great American Outdoors Act.
Above: SAWS Field Crew posing for a photo on the retaining wall they constructed.
Above: SAWS Crew Leader Matt McWilliams (left) poses for a photo showing off their stone step with crew members Bridget Stuart (middle) and Chris Brooks (right)