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IllinoisUrbanWood’s Top 10 Countdown

By Rich Christianson

The eyes have it!

The final votes are in and the Top 10 most-viewed posts on are known.

Activity on the Illinois Urban Wood Utilization Team’s website finished 2016 with 7, 349 visitors who clicked through 17,412 pages. Both of these totals are more than double that of 2015.

Here’s a quick reverse-order recap of the most popularly viewed posts last year.

10. Video: Tom The Sawyer Mills Black Walnut for Figure
Tom Hogard, aka Tom The Sawyer, of Eudora, KS, demonstrates how to maximize the figure of logs with “flaws” including sweep or crotches. Read more.

9. Woodworking Enthusiasts Get a Taste of Urban Wood
Woodworkers of all ages get an opportunity to craft products from wood salvaged from Chicago Park District trees. Read more.

8. Historic Bell Tolls for Urban Wood Display
Jeff Perkis used red oak milled from one of the downed trees to create a display stand for a historic train bell. It will become a permanent exhibit at the West Chicago City Museum. Read more.

7.  Illinois Sawmill Directories Updated
The Forestry Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently released a pair of newly updated sawmill directories, one featuring custom sawyers and the other dedicated to stationary sawmilling operations. Read more.

6. Passions Flow at IWF Urban Wood Seminar
Three presenters – representing three very diverse business models – chorused their praise for urban wood during a unique seminar held Aug. 26 at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. Read more.

5. Diverse Audience Unites at Urban Wood Event
Arborists, foresters, sawyers, architects, woodworkers and other professionals came together at the Bringing the Urban Wood Full Circle Conference to learn and share ideas for propelling the urban wood market. Read more.

4. Couple ‘Sacrificed Our Entire Lives’ for Urban Wood Business
Rob and Zoe Bocik left the 9-to-5 rat race six years ago to pursue their dream of milling lumber and crafting furniture, jewelry and other products from local trees otherwise destined for the chipper or landfill. Read more.

3. Arborist Pursues His Passion with Urban Wood Start-up
Dobnick Timberworks has joined the Illinois urban wood  movement, opening up a lumber and custom wood products business in Oswego, IL. Read more.

2. Urban Wood Products Showcase Winners Strut Their Stuff
The Urban Wood Products Showcase, featured at the March 2016 Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference, shined a bright spotlight on the design creativity of the entries that ranged from tables and wall hangings to a bell stand and soccer ball all crafted from urban wood. Read more.

1. First Release: Urban Wood User’s Resource Guide
A new national directory dedicated to helping connect tree care professionals, sawyers, woodworkers and other urban wood enthusiasts was recently released by the Urban Forest Full Circle Network. Read more.

Virginia Urban Wood Group Creates Business Directory

Add the Virginia Urban Forest Council to the growing list of organizations upping their game to promote the creation of local urban wood networks. The VUFC recently created the Virginia Urban Wood Group and developed an Urban Wood and Small Woodlot Forestry Business Directory for its website

The directory allows businesses throughout the state to list their products and services including custom milling, drying kiln, lumber sales and custom made furniture. Users of the guide can search for specific products services either state wide or narrow their search to a single city to find a local source.

The Virginia Urban Wood Group was created to promote the improved marketing and utilization of urban and small acreage trees as a viable part of Virginia’s forest products economy. Goals of the Virginia Urban Wood Group include:

  • Utilizing outreach, education and innovative workforce development to assist in the development of small acreage service providers which can fill a contractor void between the arborist and the traditional production logger.
  • Improving the utilization of Virginia’s urban and small woodlot forest resources via enhanced marketing opportunities.
  • Seeking opportunities to fulfill the interest and management needs of small property landowners who have concerns over issues such as forest health, fire danger and the proper management of their woods, with the ultimate goal of aesthetically managing their small forested property.

Access the Urban Wood Business Directory.

31 States Infested by EAB

The emerald ash borer’s wide path of destruction is captured in the latest North American map of areas under quarantine.

Firewood and nursery stock are restricted from leaving the quarantine zone which now includes all or parts of 31 states, Washington, DC, and Ontario and Quebec.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), since its discovery in southeast Michigan in 2002, emerald ash borer infestations have been detected in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Beginning in 2007, APHIS initiated a search for potential biological control agents in China. Most recently, in 2015, the stingless wasp, Spathius galinae, was released. Efforts are ongoing to find and evaluate additional biological control agents.

Click here to a blow up of the map.

Click here to read more about APHIS’s war on the emerald ash borer.

New Project to Certify Responsible Urban Forestry and Urban Wood Use

Photo: Greenability magazine feature on Urban Wood Lumber Co., Kansas City, MO.

A new initiative to support increased urban wood utilization and community benefits has been launched. The project will develop a unified urban wood certification strategy with the goal of aligning existing programs that recognize responsible management practices in the urban forest. Existing urban forestry programs range from accreditation and licensing to training and certification programs.

“We’re not starting with a blank slate,” said project manager, Kathryn Fernholz, executive director of Minneapolis-based Dovetail Partners. “There are many high-quality existing programs that support the practice of urban and utility forestry – from Tree City USA and Tree Line USA to Arborist certifications – and we’re looking at how these programs support shared goals and can respond to the growing interest in urban wood and responsible sourcing.”

The intent of the project is to develop a certification process to be incorporated into existing professional and accreditation standards, adopted by municipalities, and embraced by tree-related operations within urban forests including  arboriculture businesses and wood processors.

Partners of the project include the Arbor Day Foundation, Society of Municipal Arborists, Tree Care Industry Association, Utility Arborists Association, Right-of-Way Stewardship Council, Dovetail Partners, North Carolina Forest Service and the USDA Forest Service. Support for the project is provided by the North Carolina Forest Service, Urban and Community Forestry Program and the USDA Forest Service.

The project also seeks to develop consistent messaging to engage stakeholders and target audiences in the value and benefits of local urban wood products and promote the value-added opportunity for local businesses. Some municipalities have already incorporated urban wood into their sustainability plans and are utilizing their own wood for local use. The project hopes to support these existing efforts and to encourage similar efforts by other municipal sustainability and solid waste programs. These combined efforts ultimately increase long term carbon storage and avoid carbon emissions associated with burning or decomposing.

“By working together, we aim to increase demand for locally-sourced wood and wood products by the public and businesses,” said Nancy Stairs, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator for the North Carolina Forest Service. “We want to help arborists and processors put urban wood to good use and reduce the amount of wood entering landfills.”

For more information about this project, visit

About the Project Partners:

The Arbor Day Foundation
Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters, and valued partners. During the last 45 years, more than 250 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world. Our vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty and hunger.  As one of the world’s largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees.  More information is available at 

Society of Municipal Arborists
Founded in 1964, the SMA is an organization of municipal arborists and urban foresters. Our membership also includes consultants, commercial firms, nonprofits, tree boards, tree wardens, allied professionals, and citizens who actively practice or support some facet of municipal forestry. A professional affiliate of the International Society of Arboriculture, the SMA has members from across North America and beyond. Through our magazine, City Trees, our conferences, our website and our many active members, we strive to create networking and educational opportunities that promote the sound, professional management of a vital and invaluable resource.

Tree Care Industry Association
The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) is a trade association of 2,300 tree care firms and affiliated companies and was established in 1938 as the National Arborist Association. The TCIA develops safety and education programs, standards of tree care practice and management information for tree and landscape firms around the world. We provide continuing education, training, conferences and publications to promote the safe and appropriate practice of tree care.

Utility Arborists Association
The UAA is an organization of over 4,200 individuals with interest in and a commitment to the maintenance of trees and other vegetation for the purpose of ensuring the safe and reliable distribution of energy, including electric, oil and gas, to business and residences.

Right-of-Way Stewardship Council
Right-of-Way Stewardship Council is an accreditation program that is being pursued by a diverse group of stakeholders to provide standards of excellence for environmental stewardship along rights-of-way (ROW) and presents the opportunity for utility companies to demonstrate their commitment to such standards. It establishes standards for responsible ROW vegetation management within high-voltage electric transmission corridors. The aim of the program is to promote the application of integrated vegetation management and best management practices to the utility vegetation management industry in order to maintain power system reliability and address ecological concerns.

Dovetail Partners
Dovetail Partners provides authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy alternatives. Dovetail is a highly skilled team that fosters sustainability and responsible behaviors by collaborating to develop unique concepts, systems, models and programs. Dovetail Partners is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

North Carolina Forest Service, Urban and Community Forestry Program
North Carolina’s forest land is one of the greatest influences on the state, providing economic value and adding immeasurably to the quality of life for its residents. The forest products industry is the largest manufacturing business sector in the state, contributing approximately $31.4 billion annually to the state’s economy and providing around 144,000 jobs for North Carolinians. The NC Forest Service’s primary purpose is to ensure adequate and quality forest resources for the state to meet its present and future needs.  The U&CF Program supports urban forestry in North Carolina by administering a cost-share federal grant program for municipalities, local governments, non-profits, educational groups and schools and providing technical and/or educational assistance.

USDA Forest Service
The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.

Michigan Urban Wood Network Launches Website

The Michigan Urban Wood Network (MUWN) has launched a new website:

The new website coincides with efforts to create a state-wide network of urban wood stakeholders from arborists and tree care professionals through sawyers and woodworkers. The Michigan Urban Wood Network will build on the foundation of the Urbanwood Project which began in 2005 as part of Recycle Ann Arbor and the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council’s efforts to encourage more recycling of dead urban trees, especially those killed by the emerald ash borer. Among other things, local member sawmills sell urban wood lumber and slabs through the Recycle Ann Arbor ReUse Center and Habitat of Humanity ReStores.

The MUWN is supported by the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration Grant Program and is organized by the Sustainable Resources Alliance. Additional assistance comes from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. In addition, the MUWN is affiliated with the Urban Wood Network, which also includes urban wood utilization organizations in Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Membership to the Michigan Urban Wood Network is available to businesses, organizations and individuals interested in finding the highest and best use of Michigan’s urban forest resources. A listing on the group’s website is open to all who agree to the basic membership tenets of the Urban Wood Network.

Watch Tom The Sawyer Transform an Urban Honey Locust Log

Tom Hogard, a.k.a.,Tom The Sawyer, strikes again with another wonderful video documenting the milling of an urban tree into high-valued wood products. This time Hogard shows the milling of a honey locust tree destined to be used for custom live-edge tables. Hogard not only videos the entire milling process, he effectively uses removed from the Kansas City, KS, area to point out key processes and considerations of the log’s transformation.

Hogard said he shot the video preparing for a wood utilization program hosted by of the Missouri Department of Conservation, Kansas Forest Service and Bridging the Gap. It’s well worth a look!



Tree Services Magazine Focuses on Using Urban Tree Waste

The October 2017 issue of Tree Services magazine featured an article on managing urban tree waste.

“Wood Waste Considerations,” included quotes from Rich Christianson, communications director of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team about putting felled urban trees to their highest and best use. Christianson noted that tree care professionals “are on the front lines – they often know of desirable trees that are coming down because of whatever reason, whether its emerald ash borer, storm damage or utility work – so we’re trying to get them more involved.”

Read the full article.


Video: Salvaging Trees in Vancouver’s Urban Forest

In the third episode of its Urban Sawmillomg Series, Wood-Mizer profiles Van Urban Timber of Vancouver, BC.

The company, started by Eric Savics and Danny Hagge, has grown in leaps and bounds, specializing in  the production of live-edge slabs and custom wood furniture from locally salvaged urban trees.

“Van Urban Timber started with a theory and an idea that came from Danny … that there were enough urban trees coming down on a daily basis that could sustain enough fiber to run a small timber business,” Savics said. “What we would do, is provide a free service to go and pick up these trees whether they were coming down for reasons of liability, aesthetic, development, what have you.”

“When we started Van Urban Timber we were excited because we were doing something people weren’t doing in the city,” said Hagge. “We were taking green waste and turning it into something no one was producing in Vancouver. I think that is the backbone of our company. No matter what, we are always going to strive to be recycling, reusing, and I think that’s the way of the future. Renewable is definitely the way.”

Learn more about Van Urban Timber.

Watch more of Wood-Mizer’s Urban Sawmilling Series

Episode I: Indy Urban Hardwood

Episode II: Manayunk Timber


SUFC Slates Annual Meeting for March 7

The Sustainable Urban Forestry Coalition (SUFC)  will hold its annual meeting on March 7 at Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health, 700 2nd Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.

The meeting will focus on the relationship between public health and resiliency through green infrastructure.

A networking reception will follow that same evening at the U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20001.

SUFC is dedicated to educating policy makers and the public about the need for healthy urban forests on a national and local level.

Learn more. 

DEC Update: Join the Urban Wood Network

The Urban Wood Network, a multi-state collaborative project led by Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin, is opening up membership to other organizations and unaffiliated urban wood stakeholders.

The Urban Wood Network (UWN) will promote the UWN brand as an assurance of sustainability and stewardship of urban wood utilization; develop a long-term structure for membership and longevity of the UWN; and provide services to members to assist them in meeting their short and long-term goals.  Members agree with the UWN’s key tenets.

While the Illinois Wood Utilization Team is a founding member of UWN, I encourage you to check out the membership agreement. If you subscribe to the central tenants of membership, then take advantage of the opportunity to sign on as a charter member. Free membership is being offered through June 18, 2018.

Learn more in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also in the December issue:

  • The most-clicked urban wood news and blog posts of 2017;
  • An interview with Laureen Blissard, technical director for the GreenBuilder Coalition and principal of LTLB Envirotecture of Naperville, IL, a strong advocate of environmental sustainability, including urban wood utilization and its role in LEED building credits;
  • Download for free a copy of Wood-Mizer’s Urban Sawmilling Guide, featuring articles by Sam Sherrill and case studies of successful urban wood businesses.

If I can offer a resolution to add to your list, don’t be shy about sending us your urban wood stories, photos, videos, events, comments, etc.

May the New Year bring you peace, health and prosperity.

Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team