Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

In addition to the FAQs on this page, you can find answers to many of your questions on the main PCTA FAQ page.

I have never done trail work. Can I still help?

Yes. The project leader will take some time before a project begins to describe the kind of work you will be doing, the tools you will be using and how to use the tools safely. If there is a tool you really want to use or would rather avoid, let the project leader know. If you have any questions while you are out there working, please ask. Naturally there are some tools that require greater supervision or experience to use, but you will never be asked to use a tool that you are uncomfortable with or unqualified to use.

How can I sign up for a work project?

The best way to sign up for a work project is to go to the PCTA Volunteer page and fill in a volunteer application. Remember to indicate that you want to join the Mount Hood Chapter’s work parties! We also maintain a calendar of upcoming projects. You can contact our volunteer coordinator if you have any questions.

What should I bring on a work project?

Because our projects are co-sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and for your own safety, you must wear long pants, long sleeved shirt, work gloves, hard hat, and (sometimes) eye protection. Our crew leaders will provide you with work gloves, hard hat, and eye protection if you do not have your own. Bring clothing appropriate for the weather, lunch, snacks, and water. Overnight outings require additional preparation which will be outlined by the crew leader.

Can I wear my own hard hat, climbing helmet, or bike helmet?

Yes, but only if they show the proper certification. OSHA 1910.135 requires that all helmets comply with ANSI Z89.1 (2009, 2003, or 1997). You may be asked to show the certification sticker on the inside of the helmet. Most recreational climbing helmets are NOT certified. As far as we know, all bike helmets lack that level of certification, so are not allowed. Arborists helmets can be found that meet the certification and look very similar to climbing helmets.

What is tread work?

Tread work can involve many tasks. Digging out the dirt and growth on the uphill side of the tread (the “slough”); removing the lump of dirt and growth on the downhill side of the tread (the “berm”); widening the trail to the proper width; fixing the structures that allow water to flow off the trail (the drainages); filling holes; removing rocks or protruding roots, and more. It’s basically fixing up the path that people walk on. Tread tools are hoes, rakes, special shaped shovels, cutting tools such as Pulaskis, and more. The work is similar to digging in a garden or working a garden path.

Can I bring my dog?

For everyone’s safety and concern for the animal’s well-being, please do not bring your pet on a work project.

What about parking permits?

If you drive to the work site, you will be supplied with a day parking permit if you need one. Better yet, if you participate in two full-day projects, you will receive a Northwest Forest Pass the following season which is good for one year.

What happens if the weather is bad?

One of the advantages of living in this area is that we get our share of inclement weather, so we usually just put on our rain gear and continue working (if we didn’t we’d never get anything done!). Always be prepared for adverse conditions. If the weather turns really nasty, we will discontinue work for safety reasons.

Can I run a chainsaw?

Only volunteers who have been certified to use a chainsaw by the U.S. Forest Service (or the PCTA as authorized by the USFS) may operate a chainsaw. Visit the PCTA Saw Training and Certification page for more information.

What happens if I get hurt?

When you arrive at a work project, you will sign a form indicating your participation. For the duration of the project, you are considered a U.S. Forest Service employee and are covered under worker compensation laws.

What do I need for overnight trips?

You need to have some backcountry camping experience to make your trip enjoyable and safe. You need to provide your own tent, sleeping bag, and mess kit for meals, as well as any other equipment to help make yourself comfortable in camp. Some of our crews are supported by a camp tender and meals will be provided, while others are self-supported and you will need to bring all your own food and cooking gear. This will be noted in the project signup. Please see Volunteer Trail Crew Guidebook – Overnight and Extended Projects for more information.

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