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Alabama Launchpad is an early-stage seed fund investor started in 2006 by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama to drive innovation and job growth through startup competitions and ongoing mentoring for Alabama entrepreneurs.
In 2016, Alabama Sawyer of Birmingham, AL, was the recipient of an Alabama Launchpad award. Husband-wife team Cliff and Leigh Spencer note in the accompanying video that entering the annual competition with the intent to win is a lot of work but not without a payoff. The couple netted $100,000 and lots of great publicity.
As the story goes, Tina Albright was inspired to launch Lumber Woman & Co. after a large limbs of sycamore tree in her family’s yard fell on her husband’s car.
According to the Topeka Capital Journal, Albright’s search to find someone to mill the tree’s log into lumber to build a treehouse led her to Tom Hogard, aka, Tom The Sawyer. Hogard milled the log but also convinced her that the wood was far too valuable to be squandered on a tree house.
She agreed and the wood instead became new flooring for the Albright’s home and food for thought to start a business around selling urban wood slabs and wood products.
Forest Proud celebrates the omni importance of forests, including urban forests, as demonstrated by the accompanying video.
“Our mission is to build trust and support to manage, harvest, conserve, and play in North America’s forests in ways that address key societal challenges.” the website notes.
“We are a diverse community of forest stewards responsible for shaping the future of North America’s forests. We value the renewable products and benefits they provide us and are committed to making choices that keep forests as forests.”
Learn more at forestprod.org.
Greenfield, WI, a Tree City USA, has developed the Greenfield Model to repurpose trees removed by the city into lumber and other value-added products. The Greenfield Model is based on the Milwaukee Model and consists of three key players: the city, a container company and a medium-sized sawmill.
The model in use begins with training city tree crews in tree removal practices that that preserve their wood whenever possible. Greenfield estimates that it up to 30% of its tree removals are eligible for milling at Kettle Moraine Hardwoods, its sawmill partner. Sawn and dried lumber is sold to area companies and individuals. The other trees are used for things like pallets, mulch, biofuel, animal bedding, and firewood.
Read more about this Wisconsin Urban Wood success story on the Urban Wood Network’s website.
The GM began as a project between Wisconsin Urban Wood and the City of Greenfield and was facilitated by a 2016 grant from the WIDNR Urban Forestry Division.
The U.S.D.A. Forest Service announced that the Wood Innovations Grants deadline, originally scheduled for Jan, 23, has been extended to Feb. 25 due to the government funding shutdown.
The Forest Service invites grant applications for projects that expand wood product and wood energy markets, reduce wildfire risk, and improve forest health.
Grants provided through the agency’s Wood Innovations Program simultaneously boost local economies while helping make communities safer through the reduction of hazardous fuels on the landscape.
In 2019 the program will invest up to $8 million in projects designed to have a long-term impact on both Forest Service and other forest lands. Funding is available to support a diverse range of activities, such as completing the engineering designs, cost analyses, and permitting necessary in the final stages of commercial construction projects that use wood as a primary building material; establishing Statewide Wood Utilization Teams and Statewide Wood Energy Teams; and developing clusters of wood energy projects in a geographic area.
Since 2005 over 310 grants have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits, institutions of higher education, tribes, states, and local governments to promote the economic and environmental health of communities. Since 2013, this funding has also helped establish 10 Statewide Wood Utilization Teams and 22 Statewide Wood Energy Teams that collectively expand and support wood products and wood energy markets.
Information on how to apply is available on the Wood Innovations homepage.
The mission of the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.
Tim O’Neill, owner of the Urban Lumber Company, has been salvaging wood from Kansas City’s urban forest to sell to local woodworkers since 2012.
The Urban Lumber Company has grown leaps and bounds since its humble roots operating out of a garage and now operates as an independent LLC from Missouri Organic Recycling. As of November 2018, The Urban Lumber Company’s website boasts that it has recycled a total of 1,149,822 pounds of wood and yielded 157,170 board feet of lumber from its sawmill operation.
While the company sources wood from municipalities and individual homeowners, O’Neill says, “(O)ur biggest and best source for logs are developers and architects for larger construction projects. When construction companies have to do a major demo, they bring us in to grab logs off of the site. This helps them, and it softens the impact of new construction, both environmentally and socially.”
Dovetail Partners takes a closer look at developing industry-recognized urban wood certification to help grow awareness and demand for urban wood lumber and products in its recently released report, “Increasing Urban Wood Use Awareness and Product Demand: An analysis of green market opportunities.”
This analysis examined existing programs used in the management and care of the urban forest to identify areas of alignment and potential for green market opportunities. The analysis included identifying needs and gaps in addressing urban wood use and opportunities to increase awareness and product demand.
The project includes working with partners to develop an urban wood certification approach that could be adopted and promoted by existing programs utilized by municipalities and businesses. Dovetail’s partners include The Arbor Day Foundation, Society of Municipal Arborists, Right-of-Way Stewardship Council, Utility Arborists Association, and Tree Care Industry Association. The results of this collaboration are meant to support state urban wood groups, help create consistent messaging, and will be presented to various audiences and venues.
Several areas of opportunity are available for development of an urban wood certification approach and for the promotion of urban wood use. The opportunities summarized in the report include green markets related to:
• green building programs;
• third-party forest certification programs;
• third-party forest certification chain-of-custody programs;
• mutual recognition and program partnerships; and
• regional activities.
The Urban Wood Toolkit was designed to be used by municipal foresters, city managers, community volunteers, or students who are interested in finding the highest and best use for removed urban and community trees. Using wood from urban and community tree care residues is an effective way to reduce municipal forestry costs and waste, promote stronger linkages with the forest products industry, and produce new economic opportunities.
The Urban Wood Toolkit helps users to prioritize the most important goals and objectives for their community’s wood, recognize the types of information or resources necessary to advance, and identify the types of services that you may need from additional partners. The following toolkit bulletins are currently available:
- Bulletin #1: A Guide for Creating Urban Wood Utilization Plans
- Bulletin #2: Building Organizational & Community Support for Urban Wood
- Bulletin #3: Exploring Product Options for Urban Wood Utilization
- Bulletin #4: Establishing an Urban Log Collection and Sorting Yard
- Bulletin #5: Building Relationships with Wood Industry Partners
- Bulletin #6: Recommended Resources for Building an Urban Wood Use Plan
The Urban Wood Toolkit was developed in 2018 by Verdant Stewardship and Spalted Banjo Consulting through support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Sustainable Resources Alliance, and the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area.
The Urban Wood Network (UWN), a network of independent businesses, organizations, municipalities and advocates who utilize urban wood, was brought into existence in 2018. Members were offered free membership for 2018 thanks to support from a USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration Grant, and the Urban Wood Network established connections with over 150 members in more than 20 states, two Canadian provinces and Switzerland. With the completion of the grant, the UWN is relying on membership fees and sponsorships to provide the necessary funding to maintain and expand the Network. The 2019 membership fee has been set at $50 per entity and founding sponsors are being sought.
We’ve learned from experience that the only way to have a lasting impact, to truly establish full circle urban forestry management, is to work cooperatively from arborist to value-added manufacturer. A cohesive supply chain is the only way to get the highest product from these trees. We want to use our collective experiences to assist other businesses and other states to join the urban wood industry.
Through the power of the network, UWN has been able to connect members with specific interests or needs with other members who have that expertise. UWN has also been able to connect members with technical resources outside of the network. In addition, UWN has connected members within the same state who were previously unaware of each other.
Join the urban wood movement today by becoming a member of the Urban Wood Network. The membership agreement can be completed online at: www.urbanwoodnetwork.org/join-the-movement/membership-agreement.
To date, UWN has been directed by representatives from Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin who were partners in the grant project. Going forward, a steering committee will be formed to provide direction for UWN’s next steps. Each state that has 5 or more members will elect a UWN Committee Representative for their state and those members not in a state with five or more members will elect a Regional Representative. The US will be split into an eastern and western region (based on the Mississippi River) and each region will elect one committee member.
In 2018 UWN established the urbanwoodnetwork.org website and the “How To Do Urban Wood Webinar Series”: Webinar #1: Urban Tree Removals – Reducing Costs and Promoting Utilization, Webinar #2: Urban Lumber – How to Produce and Market It, Webinar #3: Producing Urban Wood Products – What, How and Where, and Webinar #4: Starting a State Urban Wood Network. These webinars are archived for viewing on the UWN website. New memberships, resources and webinars will be shared on the website as they are developed; UWN members will help identify topic areas of need.
UWN is hosting an Urban Wood Toolkit Webinar on January 30 at 1:00 PM EST which will provide participants with a set of resources developed by some of our Michigan members. These resources collectively make up the Urban Wood Toolkit. The toolkit guides urban wood advocates through the development of an urban wood plan for their community. The toolkit was produced with the assistance of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The UWN is a program of the Sustainable Resources Institute, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization specializing in natural resource research, education, training and certification.