Radio personality Jeff Styles is hosting a "Chain Saw Party" at his home on Lewis Chapel Mountain on Saturday as a creative way to help clean up after a recent fierce storm.
He said. "You’ve heard of taking lemons and making lemonade. Turning chicken manure into chicken salad?
"How about turning storm debris into a rare training opportunity?
"With the byproducts of the effort flowing into and through the world of locally produced art, weather safety/preparedness AND, in the end, simply produce a good, plain, old-fashioned “THANK YOU” to a group that rarely receives one?
"Well, THAT is the end result, the core theme and central concept behind this Saturday’s “Chain Saw Party” at the home of local media personality…TalkRadio morning man Jeff Styles.
This first-of-its-kind convergence, out in the boonies and high atop the peak known by locals as “Lewis Chapel Mountain”, will attempt to kill numerous birds with one, day-long stone’s throw.
Styles’ home, as well as many of his neighbors, fell victim to the EF2 Tornado that ripped through the area on Nov. 27. While his home was mostly (thankfully) spared, the heavily wooded 10 acre plot of old growth trees was decimated…with well over two dozen trees ripped up, snapped off, twisted into knots and more than a few left dangerously dangling over pathways heavily trafficked by his family and pets.
"Enter Randy Whorton, who, along with his wife Kris, founded “Wild Trails” a decade ago, bringing the burgeoning sport to Chattanooga and turning into our stomping grounds into the heart of the southeast’s best-known and continually growing off-road races: “The Stump Jump”, “Upchuck 50K”, and the newest, “Thunder Rock 100 Miler” among others.
"In an off-hand conversation, Whorton noted to me that their training program, designed to give would-be tree-trimming/removal experts the government MANDATED training and ultimate certification needed to do work at National Parks, trails, wilderness areas and more, was forever in need of practice ground.
"With scores of wannabe “Sawyers” who’d love to be able to add our area’s parks, trails and pocket wildernesses into potential worksites, there’s a nagging scarcity of property to work on and places that naturally provide the wildly varying types of downed-tree scenarios needed to complete the training and earn the certification needed to legally do the work that is so often needed but very seldom sought after.
“Well, I just happen to have your classroom and workshop combined.” I replied. Showing Whorton a handful of pix taken immediately following the storm…which the NWS and TEMA/FEMA did NOT declare to be a full-fledged tornado until several days AFTER other areas, such as Sewanee, Polk County and more had already received the public’s attention and fundraising efforts. (The Governor never declared the affected area to be an official disaster area, based on the math of families affected versus the county’s overall population)
"SO…this Saturday, 1/28/17, from 8 a.m. Eastern until dark…8-15 of Randy’s best students (especially those closest to achieving that valued government document allowing them to work on public lands laid low by natural disasters) will swarm my property, taking on tasks ranging from cutting up smaller trees lying flat on the ground, to tackling high-risk, high-tension, highly technical “widow makers” creaking in the wind, 60-200 feet above the ground, just waiting for the right moment to break away and create havoc, injury, even potential death. In other words, there’ll be something for everyone.
"But this “win-win” scenario doesn’t stop there. I have reached out to the local arts community, offering any artisan who uses raw wood to create their works of inspired imagination…from turned hardwood bowls, to hand-crafted abstract wooden “objects d’art”…to rough-hewn furniture, door frames for cabins, etc…
"And after they’ve cherry-picked the pieces that would best suit them, then the final invasion will take place, with a local charity swooping in to pick up the pieces, haul them off to a wood splitter where they’ll be cut into “collector’s item” quality firewood.
"That wood will be sold (details of where/when to follow) and the monies collected from their efforts will be ultimately donated to the local all-volunteer fire departments who spent much of the late fall/early winter fighting stubborn, dangerous wildfires that devoured untold acres of wilderness and threatened hundreds of home and other structures.
"Though it may seem a bit counter-intuitive for fire departments to sell firewood…as Styles points out, when the weather turns cold, the fireplaces and wood stoves in this area WILL inevitably once again be put to use. And THIS wood will be ultimately benefiting the brave souls who sacrificed their time and bodies to keep those earlier fires from spreading and destroying untold wealth and beauty. And each little bundle will come with standard fire-safety tips on top of everything else.
Win-Win-Win-Win. It’s almost like the universal symbol of recycling, featuring the rotating arrows following each other in an endless triangle of use and re-use, come to life.
"Randy hopes that the attention given to this effort may aid in his efforts to create a nationwide template for such training, making the creation and continued use of trails AND navigable streams for recreational paddling easier than ever, adding miles of both to our collective wealth of outdoor adventure potential."
Please call Jeff at (423) 362-4648 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Randy at (423) 883-9494 / email@example.com