Monthly archives: October, 2018

Greater West Town Celebrates 25 Years!

Congratulations to our friends at the Greater West Town Project on reaching the quarter-century of a mark. The GWTP has trained and placed 900 low-income Chicagoans in woodworking shops since it was launched in 1993. The center has moved into larger quarters and added next generation technology over the years. But the one constant during its 25-year history is Doug Rappe, program coordinator and a long-time proponent of using urban wood. Read about Doug and his award-winning program in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also featured in this issue
Dovetail Partners continues to take the lead on developing an urban wood certification program. Lucy Cohn-Still, Urban & Community Forestry Specialist of the North Carolina Forest Service, recently authored an update on the program’s progress. “The results of this collaboration would support state urban wood groups, create messaging, and be presented to various audiences and venues,” Cohn-Still writes.

It’s hurricane season and we’ve already witness the death and destruction wreaked by Hurricanes Florence and Michael. While the immediate focus in a hurricane’s wake is search and rescue by first responders, there is also a need to remove storm damaged trees. This is where the Urban Forest Strike Team springs to action. Read a 2017 blog by Patty Matteson, Southern Research Station, Forest Service in Forestry, that still rings true today.

Finally, the Urban Wood Network presented the fourth installment of its popular “How to Do Urban Wood” webinar series on October 25. Like the previous three segments, it will soon be archived to watch on-demand. Find a link to the webinar archives in the Update.

Looking forward to receiving your urban wood news and photos!

Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team
info@illinoisurbanwood.org

 

READ THE OCTOBER ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



Put Your Urban Wood Business on the Map

Dovetail Partners Inc. of Minneapolis is a leader in helping advance forest and wood products sustainability programs, including many tied to the urban wood movement.

The non-profit’s website includes an interactive map highlighting “Buy Local – Wood Products Campaigns” located throughout the U.S. and Canada that focus on informing consumers of the environmental benefits and aesthetic beauty of buying wood products that are grown and produced locally. Each site marker lists the campaign’s name, its parent program or organization, and a link to its website.

Dovetail Partners welcomes qualified company’s and organizations to request to be included on the map. Contact Dovetail Partners at info@dovetailinc.org.

 



Video: Dan Cassens on ‘Milling Your Own Lumber’

Popular Woodworking has teamed up with Wood-Mizer on a seven part series, “Milling Your Own Lumber.” One of the segments features an interview with Dan Cassens, a retired professor of wood products at Purdue University, the owner of a successful Christmas tree farm and owner of Cassens Lumber in West Lafayette, IN. Those you attended the 2015 Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference will recall his excellent presentations comparing and contrasting urban wood to commercial hardwood markets, as well as his sawmill demonstrations.



How Much Is Your Log Worth?

By Scott Wunder

Editor’s Note: Scott Wunder is owner of WunderWoods, a custom sawmill and woodworking shop in St. Charles, MO. Read more of Scott’s “wunderful” blogs at wunderwoods.com.

How much is your log worth? The short answer is probably not as much as you had hoped, but you’re not here for the short answer, so I’ll give you the long one.

First off, you need a bit of background of where I come from on this subject. I mill, sell and work with lumber from mostly suburban settings with lots of yard trees salvaged from tree services and a decent number of logs from wooded settings, usually where a building is about to be erected. This means my log supply can range from barely usable to awesomely perfect and all with lots of wacky and wild in between. I normally pay nothing for my logs and only buy a couple of logs per year, which I just can’t live without. I mostly don’t pay for logs because I mostly don’t have to. There are lots of logs available to me, especially if I am willing to pick them up.

Since I work in an area with a large population (St. Louis and St. Charles, MO), I often get requests from homeowners looking to make money from their logs, especially after hearing age-old stories of walnut logs selling for thousands and thousands of dollars. These consistent requests and a recent article in the Missouri Conservationist magazine (click here to read the article) about Missouri hardwoods prompted me to put into writing what I have repeated probably hundreds of times.

  1. A log is worth as much as someone is willing to pay. This sounds like a smartass answer, but it isn’t. If you don’t know where to sell your logs or you can’t find someone in your area willing to pay, they aren’t worth much. And, if you can’t get your logs to the buyer they are worth even less. Especially, if you only have one tree, expect no excitement from someone who normally purchases logs. You won’t get a larger purchaser, like a big sawmill, to come out for less than a truckload.
  2. Your log probably isn’t as great as you think it is. You would be amazed by how many people call me and tell me about a walnut tree in their yard that is at least 40 years old or about the tree which has its first branch at 5′ from the ground. A walnut tree is a baby at 40 years old and is obviously a short, branchy yard tree with not much of a log if there are branches 5′ from the ground. A good tree, one worth really talking about, will have at least 10′ of branchless trunk, if not 14′ or 16′ or more. Just because it is a walnut tree, doesn’t mean it is a good walnut tree.
  1. This walnut tree was about 90 years old and produced a very nice stem. The bottom log has about 250 bf. in it and would fetch about $500 dollars delivered to a sawmill. The top log in the pile and the second log up in the tree has about 200 bf. in it and would be worth about $175.

     

  2. Most high-dollar logs are veneer-quality logs. Almost all of the stories of logs selling for high prices are for veneer-quality logs. And, almost all of the logs out there are not veneer-quality logs. Veneer logs look like they came from the “log factory” and are perfect in every way; no signs of knots, straight, round, good color, good growth ring spacing, centered pith, no bird peck, no shake, no metal, fresh, and hopefully, big. I only get a few veneer quality trees out of hundreds per year and they almost never come out of yards. They are usually hidden somewhere in the woods.

    White oak logs don’t get much better than this 16′ long x 30″ diameter example. Yet, the veneer buyer wasn’t interested in purchasing it because the color was not good.

     

  3. Yard trees have metal in them. This is no myth. Whether you remember doing it or not, there is a good chance your yard tree has metal in it. Metal, like nails, hooks, wires and chains mess up saw blades and make a mess by staining the wood. I expect trees I pick up to have metal in them, and I will work around it, but remember, I don’t pay for trees. Larger operations have no reason to buy logs with metal in them, especially if the next log truck in the gate is full of logs without metal.

    Bottom logs have the most valuable wood and the most metal, like this electrical conduit with wires.

     

  4. You don’t know what you don’t know. If you are reading this, it is most likely because you don’t sell logs on a regular basis (or, you just want to see if I know what I am talking about). Without doing this consistently, you can’t know enough about your logs to properly sell them. You can’t get it in front of the right people at the right time and present them with something they can’t live without, and you definitely can’t defend your product. You will be at the mercy of the buyer. They will know after the first thing out of your mouth that you do not know what you are doing, and even if they are fair, they will never overpay.

This is a good-looking walnut log, but it has a lot of sapwood (white ring on outside), which will make it less valuable. If you don’t sell logs regularly, there is no way you would know that this could be an issue for some buyers.

 

You can tell from most of these points that I am pretty sure you aren’t going to get rich from your single tree or a couple of logs (especially from me) and you shouldn’t expect to. With that point made, you should know that some do have value if you have a place to sell them and you have a way to get them to a buyer. So, if I haven’t completely dissuaded you from selling your logs, below are some pricing examples that you can expect if you were to sell your logs to a larger operation in the midwest:

Average price, based on 20″ diameter inside the bark on the skinny end x 10′ long = 160 bf.

Red oak $.70 per bf. clear saw log = $112, $1.00 per bf. veneer log= $160

White oak $.85 per bf. clear saw log = $136, $1.50 per bf. veneer log= $240

Walnut $1.70 per bf. clear saw log = $272, $3.50 per bf. veneer log= $560

Cherry $.90 per bf. clear saw log = $144, $1.40 per bf. veneer log= $224

Hard Maple $.75 per bf. clear saw log = $120, $1.25 per bf. veneer log= $200

 

This mix of 10′ x 20″ black oak, white oak and post oak trees from a homebuilding site would sell for about $75-$100 each, delivered to a local sawmill.

Now, obviously prices will range from mill to mill, based on what wood is available in the area, what is selling well and if the mill specializes in any products or species. The above prices should just serve as a guidepost in determining if bothering to sell your logs is worthwhile. Most of the logs in the pricing example above would not cover the price of trucking on their own, so marketing one log most likely doesn’t make sense, unless you can haul it yourself.

However, you can see that if a landowner were to have a large number of trees, the money could start to add up. $112 for a red oak log doesn’t sound like much, but it starts to sound like something when there is a semi truckload of $112 logs. This is what most large timber sales are based on; a large number of logs sold at a fair price and not necessarily getting rich on one tree.

Usually, the phone calls I answer are about a single “big” walnut tree which will cost a homeowner lots of money to remove because it is large and right up against the house. They see a big log worth big money. However, the removal costs also jump up with the increase in tree size, negating any benefit of a larger tree. Their hope is that I will be excited enough about their tree to cut it down (safely, I presume) in trade for the wood, but the math doesn’t work out. A tree which costs $3,000 to remove probably won’t have $3,000 worth of logs in it, no matter if it is walnut or not.

Remember, the bottom line is that logs do have some value, but if you can’t do all of the work like cutting, hauling and selling yourself there is almost no way to make money on a single tree. Unless, of course, you just happen to have a tree like the ones below that I couldn’t live without.

This 11′ x 42″ diameter walnut took two forklifts to move and was one of only two trees which I purchased last year. I paid $950 for this log and it is the largest walnut I have personally processed. This log is potentially worth more money, but it had several obvious signs of metal, so larger mills weren’t interested.

 

This 15′ x 38″ diameter walnut was the second of only two trees which I purchased within the last year. I paid $700 for the tree and it is the second largest walnut I have ever cut. This tree also had metal in it, which kept the price down.



UWN Webinar #3: Producing Urban Wood Products

“Producing Urban Wood Products – What, How and Where,” the third in a series of informative webinars presented by the Urban Wood Network, is available on demand.

Consumers from all over the country are joining the urban wood movement and are buying urban wood products in all shapes and sizes, from cutting boards to fine furniture to architectural lumber.  This webinar will discuss examples: of urban wood products, urban lumber sourcing, and examples of local/ regional/national markets.

Participants will learn:

  • The diversity of products made from urban wood
  • How to connect with urban wood sources
  • How to identify markets for urban wood products
  • Urban wood products branding opportunities
  • Who to contact for assistance
  • How to partner with an urban wood network to achieve their goals

Speakers:
Rick Siewert – Wood From the Hood, MN;

Paul Hickman – Urban Ashes, MI; and

Rocky Levy – Icon Modern, IL.

Watch the Webinar Now!

https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/p4rt63uihedi/?proto=true

Learn more about the Urban Wood Network’s “How-to Do Urban Wood” webinar series.



After the Storm, Call on the Urban Forest Strike Team

Editor’s note: This blog was posted a year ago but remains relevant, especially after the recent havoc of Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

 

By Patty Matteson, Southern Research Station, Forest Service in Forestry 

Thousands of federal, state, and private agencies have been deployed to areas that were impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. These first responders are there to help the people in the storm’s path. However, there is another group of responders that go into storm-ravaged towns to aid the trees: the Urban Forest Strike Teams (UFST).

This 10-year-old program is a nationwide collaborative effort among state forestry agencies funded and trained through the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. Since 2007, the Southern UFST has been activated 12 times and mobilized across the South in response to hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice storms.

The catalyst for the creation of UFST was Hurricane Katrina. Widespread tree damage prompted the international Society of Arboriculture, Davey Resource Group, and USFS to deploy certified arborists into at least nine communities along the Mississippi/Louisiana Gulf Coast. State forestry agency urban foresters were frustrated that damaged but viable trees were being cut down and trees that posed a high risk to the public remained standing. The lack of an assessment strategy or trained staff hindered their ability to offer needed assistance to impacted communities.

Urban Forestry Coordinators of Virginia and North Carolina – Paul Revell and Leslie Moorman – reached out to USFS Southern Research Station (SRS) for assistance. In 2007 Dudley Hartel, SRS’s Urban Forestry South center manager, and Eric Kuehler, technology transfer specialist, developed the first UFST training program in collaboration with state forestry agencies.

A UFST is comprised of highly-trained specialists, including Certified Arborists® and foresters, who conduct damage assessments and determine whether the storm-damaged trees pose risks to the community. The UFST walks the city streets, parks, and other public property; evaluates damaged trees; and enters GIS data to support mitigation and recovery. This real-time data provides the city with information on which trees were impacted, where they are located, the extent of the damage, and whether the damaged trees pose a risk. UFSTs also provide communities with the information necessary to apply for FEMA public assistance and debris removal, as well as connecting communities with potential partners to help replant a community’s forest.

“The UFST goes into areas first hit hard by wind damage,” said Hartel. “We will have to wait until next spring before we send a team to Houston to access tree damage due to flooding. All that water will have a significant impact to tree health in the long-term.”

“Trees are a critical part of a community’s infrastructure and should be considered in restoration planning,” said Linda Moon, communications liaison to the Southern Group State Forestry and with Texas A&M Forest Service. “Making our urban forests more resilient will in turn make our cherished communities more resilient.”



National Wood Certification Project Update

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published in the North Carolina Urban Wood Group’s September 2018 newsletter.

By Lucy Cohn-Still
Urban & Community Forestry Specialist
NC Forest Service

While attending the International Society of Arboriculture’s 2018 Annual conference in Columbus, Ohio, I participated in the urban wood certification grant meeting with Dovetail Partners executive director Kathryn Fernholz and other key players in the Urban Wood Certification Project to increase awareness and product demand for national urban wood use. We met together to discuss and examine the existing programs that are utilized in the management and care of the urban forest to identify areas of alignment and potential for mutual recognition between compatible programs. The project also includes looking for any needs and gaps in addressing urban wood use and opportunities to increase awareness and product demand.

The scope of work for this proposal includes working with partners to develop an urban wood certification approach that could be adopted and promoted by existing programs (including The Arbor Day Foundation, Society of Municipal Arborists, Right-of-Way Stewardship Council, Utility Arborists Association, Tree Care Industry Association, and Dovetail Partners Inc.), and utilized by municipalities and businesses. The results of this collaboration would support state urban wood groups, create messaging, and be presented to various audiences and venues.

Several areas of opportunity are available for development of an urban wood certification approach and promotion of urban wood use.  The opportunities we discussed include possibilities related to:

  • Green Building Programs
  • Third-Party Forest Certification Programs
  • Third-Party Forest Certification Chain-of-Custody Programs
  • Mutual Recognition and Program Partnerships
  • Regional Activities

Urban wood use may already occur to a limited degree within green building programs and third-party forest certification programs. Further research could identify current activities in these areas to highlight possible case studies or promotional opportunities. With further development, the use of urban wood in green building could be expanded and recognition within third-party forest certification programs could be formalized.

North Carolina’s role within this project is to provide financial and technical assistance, as well as work with Virginia and other states throughout the south east to promote urban wood utilization and standards. This certification project is a national project involving several partners, but North Carolina will assist within the southeast by raising awareness and encouraging discussions about urban wood standardization and utilization. Our next step will be to develop draft pilot strategies and ideas of approaching urban wood certification.

For more information on the Urban Wood Certification Project, visit www.dovetailinc.org or contact me at Lucy.Cohn-Still@ncagr.gov.