Category: Blogs

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.”



Making the Transition from Teaching to Running an Urban Wood Business

Skorup made this live-edge table from tornado-salvaged wood.

Steve Skorup of Sandwich, IL, may have retired from high school teaching, but he’s hardly retired. His new day job is harvesting urban trees to make into furniture and other wood products. He’s found diverse sources for urban logs and has made friends with a pair of local sawyers to mill them for his shop. Read more about Skorup and his urban wood business, SAWINC, in this edition of the Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also featured in this issue

Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products of Milwaukee, presented the first Wisconsin Urban Wood Utilization Award to the architects and builders of the DoMUS apartment complex. The award recognized the project’s use of Wisconsin Urban Wood shelving in 117 luxury apartments. His goal is to make this an annual award. Way to go, Dwayne!

We’ve featured several videos produced Tom Hogard of Eudora, KS, better known in urban wood circles as Tom The Sawyer, over the years. Tom recently began blogging on his website. In one of them he tackles the challenging question, “Can you cut your lumber costs significantly by patronizing your local sawmill?” Read the article in this month’s Update for Tom’s answer.

The Urban Wood Network presented its third in its “How to Do Urban Wood” webinar series last week. It will soon be archived to watch on-demand. The second webinar, “How to Produce and Market Urban Lumber,” was recently added to the archives. A handy link is offered in the newsletter to check it out.

As always, send me your urban wood news and photos. Steve Skorup did it, so can you!

Rich Christianson

Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team


UWN Webinar #2: How to Produce & Market Urban Lumber

How to Produce & Market Urban Wood Lumber, the second in a series of informative webinars presented by the Urban Wood Network, is available on demand.

Urban wood is a legitimate source of lumber products.  Lumber made from urban wood has unique and valuable attributes but urban logs can be difficult to process and saw. This webinar shows examples of log sources, sawing methods for producing urban lumber, lumber drying techniques and marketing strategies.

Participants learn:

  • Sourcing logs
  • Guidelines for grading urban lumber
  • Air drying and kiln drying techniques
  • Urban wood lumber branding opportunities
  • How to identify markets for urban wood lumber
  • Who to contact for assistance
  • How to partner with an urban wood network to achieve their goals

Speakers:

Watch the Webinar Now!

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



Tom The Sawyer’s Examines ‘The Cost of Lumber’

Tom Hogard of Eudora, KS, better known in urban wood circles as Tom The Sawyer, has done a bang up job of sharing videos of interesting milling projects and sharing his knowledge and experience of the ins and outs of the urban wood marketplace. Case in point is a blog Hogard wrote to answer the challenging question, “Can you cut your lumber costs significantly by patronizing your local sawmill?”

Here are a few excerpts:

  • In my opinion, there are two basic types of markets for hardwood lumber.  I refer to these markets as commodity and character.  The commodity market is the primary market, hundreds of times larger than the character lumber market.  Huge milling operations that may put out many thousands of board feet per week.  For commodity lumber, extra-wide boards demand a premium price, as do thicker boards.  Rarely do they offer characteristics such as crotch figure or live edges.
  • The journey from a growing tree to a piece of furniture has many steps.  Every step in the process involves risk, investment, waste, and profit.  The earlier in the process you acquire your lumber, the less expensive it will be.  The potential cost savings involves an investment and some risk.  Each of the persons in the process must cover their expenses or go out of business.  If there is no profit, they’ll often find something else more rewarding.  Depending on your needs, that $5 p/bf walnut board may be a bargain.
  • Logs are heavy.  It takes ingenuity to remove a 4000 lb log from someone’s back yard, through a fence gate, without tearing up the lawn (which is one reason why many urban logs are cut into short, easier to handle, pieces).  Then there is the issue of loading those logs on a truck or trailer and transporting to their next stop; a sawmill, or a landfill/dump/chipping facility.  Of course, in commercial operations there is an abundance of heavy equipment designed to perform those functions efficiently.

To get the full context, read the entire blog – and others – on Tom The Sawyer’s website.

 

 



IWF Urban Wood Seminar Delivered with a Tinge of Irony

As I went about last-minute preparations leading up to welcoming woodworkers to the August 24 urban wood seminar, I had to laugh.

Standing at the podium, I pulled a red and silver flash drive from my pocket containing all four of the panelist’s presentations. As I began inserting it into the laptop connected to the projector, I noted the device bore the logo “Allsteel,” The irony that I had uploaded our urban wood PowerPoints onto the thumb drive pf this metal office furniture manufacturer randomly fished from my collection did not escape me.

After briefly pausing to chuckle, I put on my game face and charged ahead with my opening remarks introductions of the expert panel representing three distinct urban wood utilization groups: Jennifer Alger, Urban Salvaged & Reclaimed Wood on the West Coast; Joe Lehnen, Virginia Urban Wood Group of the Southeast; and Dwayne Sperber, Urban Wood Network of the Midwest.

The 90-minute presentation was well received by the audience of professional woodworkers attending the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. They came from coast to coast and Canada. Some had experience using urban wood in their products, others were curious to learn more about how they might do so. A few even expressed interest in trying to rev up urban wood networks in their home states where none currently existed.

The program had the support of lead sponsor Wood-Mizer, plus Richelieu Hardware, Dynabrade and Safety Speed Manufacturing. All four companies are long-time exhibitors of IWF, North America’s largest woodworking event.

Read more about the seminar, “The Urban Wood Revolution Is Now! Come Join the Movement,” in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also featured in this issue

Professional woodworkers are an important link in the chain to grow demand for urban wood. This is why being able to take to the stage of huge industry events like IWF, and benefit from all of the publicity that surrounds it, is an important component of the Urban Wood Network’s outreach activities to spur greater awareness of urban woods potential. Earlier this summer, the story of how Riverside, IL, repurposed an historic 160-year-old oak tree felled by high winds into custom desks for its trustees, was published in Woodshop News. The national publication is circulated to more than 50,000 print and digital readers.

Sam Sherrill, the dean of urban wood, helped examine the greener side of urban wood products. His research done in tandem with Steve of Dovetail Partners, quantified the benefits of furniture and other products made with urban wood to sequester carbon, thus reducing the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Reminders
The second installment of the Urban Wood Network’s How To Do Urban Wood webinar series – Urban Lumber – How to Produce and Market It – takes place at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, August 29.

The Wisconsin Urban Forest Fest is scheduled for September 15 at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee.

The lights are always on for receiving your urban wood stories, photos and experiences to share with the Illinois Urban Wood Update subscriber base.

Enjoy the issue!

Rich Christianson

Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team
info@illinoisurbanwood.org

P.S. Joe Lehnen texted me to let me know he had the “Allsteel” thumb drive, which I had left in the seminar room. I replied that he should hold onto it and that perhaps 10 years from now it would be a valuable collectable of the Urban Wood Movement!

READ THE AUGUST ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



The Urban Wood Movement Surges Ahead at IWF

 

IWF Urban Wood Seminar

Rich Christianson, left, moderated the seminar that featured Dwayne Sperber, Jennifer Alger and Joe Lehnen.

Representatives of urban wood utilization groups located in the Southeast, West Coast and Midwest shared their knowledge and passion with professional woodworkers attending the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta.

The free 90-minute seminar, “The Urban Wood Revolution Is Now! Come Join the Movement,” was held Aug. 24 at IWF, North America’s largest industrial woodworking event. Nearly 80 woodworkers from across North America registered for the program organized by the Urban Wood Network.

Wood-Mizer, a leading manufacturer of portable sawmills and other wood processing equipment, is the lead sponsor of this unique program. Other sponsors include Richelieu Hardware, one of North America’s largest sources of cabinet and furniture hardware, Dynabrade, manufacturer of industrial sanding equipment, and Safety Speed Manufacturing, a U.S. manufacturer of vertical panel saws, widebelt sanders and other woodworking equipment.

IWF URBAN WOOD SEMINAR SPONSORS

Rich Christianson, communications director of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team, moderated the session. Presenters included:

Jennifer Alger, CEO of Far West Forest Products based in Sheridan, CA, and president of Urban Salvaged and Reclaimed Woods, the first West Coast urban wood network.

Joe Lehnen, forest utilization & marketing specialist for the Commonwealth of Virginia, including the new Virginia Urban Wood Group.

Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products of Milwaukee and Wisconsin state lead for the Urban Wood Network.

“A lot of great things have happened to push the movement forward since the IWF hosted the first urban wood seminar in 2016,” Christianson said. “First and foremost, larger networks like the Urban Wood Network, Urban Salvaged and Reclaimed Woods and Virginia Urban Wood did not exist. These umbrella groups are bringing local networks and individual companies and stakeholders together to do business, share best practices and raise the awareness of urban wood’s potential.

“Secondly, while Wood-Mizer once again took the lead to demonstrate its fantastic support for the urban wood movement, we were gratified to have the additional backing of major IWF exhibitors like Richelieu, Dynabrade and Safety Speed Manufacturing. Their support is further evidence that the urban wood movement is gaining traction among the mainstream woodworking industry.”

Program highlights included:

• The unique source local/buy local marketing appeal of urban wood products and the interesting stories they tell.
• The environmental advantages of utilizing urban wood.
• How to find local sources of urban wood.
• How to join or start a local urban wood network.

In addition to the individual presentations, the seminar was anchored by a robust Q&A session that afforded audience members the opportunity to get immediate responses to their questions and viewpoints from the panel and fellow seminar attendees.

About the Urban Wood Network
The Urban Wood Network (UWN) operates from funding provided by the USDA Forest Service Northeastern, State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration Grant Program. UWN has opened up membership to other state urban wood organizations as well as individual companies and entities. The four state partners include:
Illinois Wood Utilization Team;
Michigan Urban Wood;
Missouri Department of Conservation
; and
Wisconsin Urban Wood.

About the International About the International Woodworking Fair
The International Woodworking Fair, owned by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association and the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America, is North America’s largest industrial woodworking event. IWF 2018 is scheduled for August 22-25 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. It is the “must-attend” show for manufacturers of furniture, cabinets, flooring and other secondary wood products. IWF 2016 attracted more than 17,000 woodworking professionals and featured more than 1,100 exhibitors from the U.S., Canada and beyond. Learn more at iwfatlanta.com.2

IWF 2018 Urban Wood Seminar Presentations

Rich Christianson

Jennifer Alger

Joe Lehnen

Dwayne Sperber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Part One of ‘How-to Do Urban Wood’ Webinar Sells Out

Congratulations if you were fortunate to grab a seat for the July 25 webinar, “Urban Tree Removals – Reducing Costs and Promoting Utilization.” The first of a four-part webinar series presented by the Urban Wood Network quickly maxed-out its 90-participant capacity during registration leading up to the free 90-minute program.

The good news is that if you missed out on the live presentation, you will be able to watch the full program at your leisure on-demand. The webinar, produced by the U.S. Forest Service, will be archived on urbanwoodnetwork.org. I also will share a link on the Illinois Wood Utilization Team’s website when it becomes available,

The informative program featured presentations by Matthew Staudenmaier, forestry department supervisor of Eau Claire, WI; Dan Coy, city forester of Grand Rapids, MI; Kevin LaPointe, city forester of Kansas City, KS; and August Hoppe, president of Hoppe Tree Service of West Allis, WI.

Registration is open for part two of the webinar series: Urban Lumber – How to Produce and Market It, scheduled for 12:00 p.m. CST Wednesday, August 29. Learn more about the entire How To Do Urban Wood webinar series in this edition of the Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also featured in this issue 

Our colleagues of Wisconsin Urban Wood invite urban wood enthusiasts to attend the Urban Forest Fest scheduled for September 15 in Milwaukee. Read about the fest, including how to become an exhibitor of this event that attracted approximately 500 people in 2016.

Horigan Urban Forest Products of Skokie, IL, has been a pioneer of the urban wood movement in Illinois. In addition to managing a tree care company and sawmill business, Bruce and Erika Horigan operate a showroom and warehouse that is open to the public. Read the Q&A with Erika Horigan discussing the couple’s commitment to keeping good urban wood out of the waste stream.

Learn how to connect with urban wood proactivists around the globe by joining the Urban Wood Network LinkedIn group that now numbers more than 1,750 strong.

Finally, if you by chance are heading to Atlanta next month for the International Woodworking Fair, make sure to attend the Urban Wood Network’s free seminar, “The Urban Wood Revolution Is NOW! Come Join the Movement,” set for 1 p.m. Friday, August 24 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

The lights are always on for receiving your urban wood stories, photos and experiences to share with the Illinois Urban Wood Update subscriber base.

I hope you enjoy this edition.

Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team


READ THE JULY ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



Woodworking Industry Takes Notice of Urban Wood Movement

The urban wood movement will take to the main stage of the North American woodworking industry’s most important event – the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. The free 90-minute seminar, “The Urban Wood Revolution Is NOW! Come Join the Movement,” set for Friday, August 24 is garnering strong support from a diverse segment of companies exhibiting at the show.

Wood-Mizer, lead sponsor of the seminar, has been joined by three other sponsors: Richelieu Hardware, Dynabrade and Safety Speed Manufacturing. Each of these companies sees utilizing felled and fallen urban trees to their highest possible value in tune with their own sustainability missions.

It is extremely gratifying to see more wood industry companies support the efforts of the Urban Wood Network, organizer of the event, as well as peer groups in the Southeast and West Coast which will be represented in the seminar. IWF represents a great opportunity to educate more professional woodworking companies about the potential of this vastly under-utilized yet very valuable resource.

Read more about the IWF Urban Wood Seminar Sponsors and the products that they will display in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Speaking of IWF Urban Wood Seminar presenters, check out the video featuring Jennifer Alger. Jennifer, CEO of Far West Forest Products in Sheridan, CA, is the force behind the new Urban Salvaged & Reclaimed Woods Network. She will be joined by Dwayne Sperber of Wudeward Urban Forest Products, who will represent the Urban Wood Network on the panel. Yours truly will moderate the presentation.

Also, speaking of IWF Urban Wood Seminar sponsors, read about Wood-Mizer’s recent acquisition of the Swedish company MOReTENs. As a result of the purchase, Wood-Mizer, already renowned for its portable and stationary sawmills, now offers more value-added capability with machines including planers/moulders, table saws and even CNC routers.

Finally, if you are interested in connecting with urban wood proactivists around the globe, then become a member of the Urban Wood Network LinkedIn group that now numbers more than 1,750 strong.

As always, send me your urban wood stories, photos and experiences.

I hope you enjoy this edition.

Rich Christianson

Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team
info@illinoisurbanwood.org

READ THE JUNE 2018 ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



MAY 18 Update: Researchers Sound the Alarm on Urban Tree Loss

A new study by researchers of the U.S. Forest Service estimates that U.S. urban areas are losing about 36 million trees per year. You can read a summary about the study, with a link to a more in-depth report, in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update.

No doubt, I think its fair to say that a good number of these 36 million trees could produce lumber to make things. But I think it’s also fair to say that probably only a very small percentage of the lumber-bearing trees have had a date with a sawmill.

The wasted opportunities to repurpose more of our felled and fallen urban tress points to the need for municipalities to incorporate urban wood utilization in their urban forestry plans. Some do, but far more don’t.

In this regard and on a more encouraging note, you can read how 95 Chicago-area communities recently signed the Greenest Region Compact. The GRC is a guide that cities can use to implement local actions to promote sustainability and create healthy, thriving communities. One of the goals of the GRC is “Harvest and utilize high-value wood products from trees that must be removed.”

Kudos to Edith Makra, director of environmental initiatives at the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and former chair of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team, who authored the GRC.

Meanwhile, the emerald ash borer has finally found its way into Vermont. It’s amazing that it took this long considering how the EAB has ravished ash trees in surrounding states. As state foresters brace for the deadly beetle’s invasion, they are already considering how they might put some of the tree casualties to use.

Finally, the free urban wood seminar being organized by the Urban Wood Network at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, has three new sponsors. Richelieu Hardware, Dynabrade and Safety Speed Manufacturing have joined lead sponsor Wood-Mizer in supporting this special presentation at North America’s largest gathering of professional woodworkers. I’m looking forward to moderating the session, “The Urban Revolution Is NOW! Come Join the Movement,” scheduled for August 24 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

READ THE MAY 2018 ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE

 



Urban Wood Movement Takes Woodworking Industry’s Biggest Stage in Atlanta

Growing demand for urban wood lumber and products is paramount to advancing the urban wood movement and cause.

One way to increase demand for urban wood begins with making woodworkers – particularly custom woodworkers – aware of the potential of using this under-utilized material in their cabinet, furniture and other projects.

The Urban Wood Network (UWN) aims to do just that by presenting a free 90-minute seminar August 24 at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. IWF is the woodworking industry’s largest North American event; more than 17,000 professionals attended the show two years ago.

This actually represents an encore performance. More than 130 people registered for the urban wood utilization seminar at IWF 2016.

Representatives of three regional urban wood utilization efforts will present including Dwayne Sperber, representing UWN; Jennifer Alger, representing the West Coast’s new Urban Salvaged & Reclaimed Lumber; and a third speaker to be announced soon representing the Southeast’s urban wood movement. Yours truly will moderate this panel of distinguished and passionate speakers. A big thanks to Wood-Mizer for signing on as the major sponsor of the program.

You can learn more about the IWF urban wood seminar: The Urban Wood Movement Is Now! Come Join the Movement in this edition of the Illinois Urban Wood Update.

Also featured this month:
Watch a video to see how Hunski Hardwoods has established a successful business salvaging and milling felled urban trees in Sacramento, CA. It’s the 4th episode of Wood-Mizer’s Urban Sawmilling series.

Make it a double feature by checking out a video showing how New York state deploys its fleet of 22 drones to get a bird’s-eye view for monitoring the health of its public and urban forests.

In case you missed the Spring Urban Wood Webcast presented by the Wood Education & Resource Center of the Northeast Forest Station, you can now view it on-demand. Included are updates on the Urban Wood Network, Virginia Urban Wood group, urban wood certification efforts and urban wood utilization in Kansas City, MO.

READ APRIL 2018 ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE

Don’t forget to share your urban wood stories, photos and experiences.

Until next month, enjoy!

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