The U.S. Forest Service removed hundreds of hazard trees out of the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway using a blasting method. Some of the trees with excessive decay or fire damage are too hazardous for sawyers to fell safely, often explosives can be used to fell such trees.
A hazard tree poses a threat to people near by, either because it's dead or the wood is not sound which means a wind event or even a light breeze might knock the tree over with no warning. Another way a tree is considered a hazard is if part of the top is dead, or if large limbs are hanging up in the top that might come down and hit somebody while walking through the woods.
The Forest Service says blasting is safe and effective. Dennis Davis is the project leader of blasting at Missoula Technology Development Center, he says with the right technique blasting trees is as effective as using a chainsaw.
"We can actually make the tree fall just like a sawyer would and in a direction that is more advantageous than one say if its got a slight lean on direction towards the road we can make it fall in another direction" said Davis.
Explosive procedures used are safe and they use modern equipment along with modern explosives that don't contain nitroglycerin explosives so they can't accidentally detonate. In the three days of work the Forest Service removed about 400 trees.