Tag: Illinois Wood Utilization Team

Every Urban Tree Tells a Story; Got One to Share?

furniture 209214

Oak/Cherry Coffee Table by Michael Dimitroff of the Chicago Park District.

Many of the urban trees that get repurposed as lumber and ultimately furniture or other wood products have a back story. It may be the backyard tree that shaded a generation or more of the same family. Or it may be the tree in the park renown for snagging kites.

There are as many potential story lines as there are urban trees. If you have one to share, we’d love to hear it. Simply send a photo or two and a short write up about the tree and how and why it was transformed into something of value for its second life. Even a handful of bullet points will suffice. We’ll do the rest and share your story with our audience on the IL WUT website and monthly Illinois Urban Wood newsletter.

Direct your urban tree tale to Rich Christianson at richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com.

Let’s aspire to inspire others how to put urban trees at the end of their life to their highest and best possible use!

AUG UPDATE: House Supports Urban Forestry Funding

Riverside-Urban-Oak-Table209214Things weren’t looking so good for Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) programs when President Trump unveiled his 2018 budget zeroing out funding. But the House of Representatives has picked up the pieces and allocated $27.3 million to support the health of our nation’s urban forests. That’s a handful of sawdust relative to the overall $4 trillion budget, but welcomed nonetheless by the agencies throughout the United States and its territories.
Continuation of U&CF funding still requires support of the U.S. Senate. As you can read in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update, the Sustainable Urban Forestry Council and the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Alliance for Community Trees Program have been rallying support to lobby the Senate to maintain funding. You can also watch an on-demand webinar explaining what’s at stake and how to get involved.
Speaking of involved, the Village of Riverside showed its support of the Chicago area’s urban wood movement. Village officials gave their blessing to have a 160-year-old oak tree downed in a March storm repurposed into a trio of desks for the village hall. Kudos to Riverside Forester Michael Collins for seeking and winning the support of elected officials. I had a chance to meet with Michael, Dan DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwood, which milled the log, and Paul Meyers of Woodstock Woodworks, who expertly crafted the pieces. I’ll be writing a story for a national woodworking trade publication for the time being, check out the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark’s report.
Need a break from reading? Check out the video that shows how Indy Urban Hardwood utilizes its portable sawmill to salvage fallen and diseased urban trees in Indianapolis. It’s Episode One of Wood-Mizer’s new Urban Sawmill series.
And don’t forget to send us your urban wood news, stories, events and more.
Until next month, enjoy!
Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team



160-Year-Old Oak Tree Begets Three Tables for Riverside’s Village Hall

urban wood

Paul Meyer of Woodstock Woodworks, left; Jessica Frances, Riverside village manager; Dan DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwood; and Michael Collins, Riverside village forester, pose with one of the three trustee tables crafted from a 160-year-old oak tree.

Three custom tables, crafted from the wood of an estimated 160-year-old oak tree downed in a March 2016 storm, were delivered earlier this month to the Riverside village hall.

The story of the tree’s transformation into the trustee tables, was chronicled by the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark. Three key players of the project included Michael Collins, village forester of Riverside; Dan DeSerto, owner of Bull Valley Hardwood; and Paul Meyer, owner of Woodstock Woodworks & Studio Ltd.

Collins was inspired to have the old oak made into something after it was bowled over by a wind storm in March 2016. He sought and got the blessing and backing of Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances and the village board of trustees. Collins called DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwoods to mill a 30-inch–diameter  log from the tree and dry the lumber it yielded. DeSerto recommended local custom woodworker Paul Meyers to create the Prairie-style furniture.

The story also gives a shout out to Edith Makra and the Illinois Utilization Team.

Read the full article.


Chicago’s Sister City Has an Urban Wood Brother in Sawmill Sid

Sawmill-SidThe Illinois Urban Wood Utilization Team pays homage to Sawmill Sid, one of our brethren repurposing urban forest trees one log at a time in the Toronto area.

Sawmill Sid, a family-owned business, claims it kept nearly 220,000 cubic feet of urban wood out of the landfill last year. This wood was milled and into lumber, furniture, flooring, beams, and corporate gifts.

Beyond those types of products, Sawmill Sid aims to “to do our part in building sustainable communities. Our goal is to re-purpose our wood products and turn the by-products into biofuel.”

On a closer-to-home reason for being, Sawmill Sid was recognized for contributing wood to build “buddy benches” at all Simcoe County District School Board elementary schools.

Learn more at sawmillsid.ca.


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 IllinoisUrbanWood.org 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.

IL WUT’s Global Reach

il-wut-visitor-mapBy Rich Christianson

IllinoisUrbanWood.org blew past 15,000 page views for this calendar year in October. As of today, the website has 15,603 total views — more than double the number recorded for all of 2015 and seven-fold the clicks totaled in 2014 when the website was launched.

I detailed the largest factors behind this dramatic uptick in an October 11 webcast produced by the Wood Education Resource Center. They include:

> Giving search engines more opportunities to “recommend” the site by posting 60 articles and videos through October, 60% more than posted all of last year. In October I noted that IllinoisUrbanWood.org ranked number one in Google search for the terms Urban Lumber, Urban Wood Utilization and Urban Wood Sawmills. IL WUT ranked number three for Urban Wood and ranked eight, nine and 10 for Urban Wood Products.

> The increased content posts have fed the monthly Illinois Urban Wood Update, a monthly newsletter that debuted in July 2015. It is the monthly newspaper that brings the latest headlines to subscribers.

> That subscription database has climbed dramatically from 351 at the end of 2015 to 803 by the end of September 30, 2016, a robust 129% increase.

It’s been truly gratifying to see the interest in IL WUT’s online activities swell. I also find it interesting that while U.S. and Canadian page views represent 92.7% and 2.4% of this year’s total respectively, visitors have entered the website from 83 other countries. Beyond the Top 10 countries summarized in the accompanying graphic are many nations that one would not suspect would have much interest in the urban wood movement, places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Cambodia and the Cayman Islands to name a few. I imagine visitors from some of these far off lands arrived by accident but I’d like to think that many were led our way by the will to learn more about urban wood and urban forestry.

Even if it’s a stretch, I can still hope that all left a little more gratified and educated than when they landed.

Note: For those interested, here’s a link to my Illinois Wood Utilization Team update PowerPoint for the WERC Webcast.






TigerStop Embraces the Urban Wood Message

tigerstop-logoTigerStop LLC of Vancouver, WA, a leading manufacturer of precision stop/gauge and pusher system technology, recently did its part to communicate the potential benefits of using urban wood by posting and sending a blog to its customers, “Urban Wood Movement Takes Root.”

Authored by Rich Christianson, communications director of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team, the blog begins, “A tree that can bear lumber is a terrible thing to waste. Yet, according to a USDA Forest Service study, every year an estimated 3.8 billion board feet of lumber that could potentially be milled from urban trees is instead cut into firewood, mulched, chipped or deposited into a landfill.

“It’s this sad realization that so much good wood is going to waste that has drawn a growing number of land managers, tree care professionals, sawyers, woodworkers and even architects to the urban wood movement. These forward-thinking professionals are forming partnerships and forging local networks to put urban trees felled by insect infestation, storm damage, urban development and mortality to their best possible use, including lumber, furniture and other wood products whenever possible.”

The blog includes five examples of urban wood users in five different states and concludes with a link to the newly released Urban Wood User’s Resource Guide.

Read the full blog at TigerStop.com.



Scenes from the 34th Illinois Arborist Association Convention

The Illinois Arborist Association’s 34th Annual Conference & Trade Show is one for the books.

The successful event, which brings together hundreds of arborists, tree care professionals and industry suppliers, took place Oct. 18-19 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Tinley Park, IL.

The Illinois Wood Utilization Team was among the three dozen exhibitors of the event trade show. IL WUT representatives displayed samples of urban wood lumber, passed out copies of the new Urban Wood User’s Resource Guide and signed up attendees to the monthly Illinois Urban Wood newsletter. IL WUT representatives also took full advantage of networking opportunities to discuss urban wood use with current practitioners and those considering joining the movement.

The well-attended conference sessions provided IAA members with opportunities to earn CEUs. Educational tracks included Commercial, Municipal, Demonstration Tree, Oak Forest Restoration Along the Rural Urban Interface, Spanish and Utility.

Learn more about the Illinois Arborist Association.

IWF Urban Wood Seminar Report Slated for Oct. 11 Webcast

iwf_22298-26-16Highlights from the urban wood seminar at the International Woodworking Fair (IWF) will be presented during an Oct. 11 webcast by the Wood Education and Resource Center.

Rich Christianson, communications director of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team, will lead the discussion about “Urban Wood Utilization: Making Products & Profits from Landscape Trees.” The seminar, organized by the Full Circle Urban Forest Network, was held Aug. 26 at IWF 2016, North America’s largest woodworking event.

The IWF presentation is one of nine updates on the docket for WERC’s Fall Urban Wood Utilization Webcast, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST) Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Here’s the full schedule of the webcast.

1:00 p.m. Introduction and Overview
Ed Cesa, U.S. Forest Service, Wood Education and Resource Center

1:10 p.m. Update on Urban Forest Products Standard
Bob Rouse, Tree Care Industry Association

1:25 p.m. Update on International Woodworking Fair Urban Wood Activities & Illinois Wood Utilization Team Activities
Rich Christianson, Illinois Wood Utilization Team

1:50 p.m. Example of Urban Wood Utilization in Charlotte, NC
Harry Watt, NCSU Wood Products Extension

2:15 p.m. Urban Wood Products Exchange and Urban Wood Usage Video
Eric Muecke, North Carolina State Forestry

2:25 p.m. Northern Virginia Urban Wood Utilization and Marketing Workshop
Joe Lehnen, Virginia Department of Forestry

2:35 p.m. Harrisburg, PA, Urban Wood Utilization Efforts
Ellen Roane, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry

2:45 p.m. Update on Wisconsin’s Urban Wood Utilization Activities
Sabina Dhungana, Wisconsin Division of Forestry

2:55 p.m. Update on MI Urban Wood Utilization
Jessica Simons, Southeast Michigan RC&D Council

3:00 p.m. Final comments and date for next webcast
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Attend the Oct. 11 webcast by following these instructions:

Connect to the Adobe Connect web meeting: https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/werc-500/


  • Keep “Enter as a Guest” selected
  • Type your name into the “name” box
  • Click “Enter Room”
  • For audio: Dial in by phone: 888-844-9904; access code: 7578516

The webcast will be archived and available on demand at http://www.na.fs.fed.us/werc/eab.shtm.







Sterling Lumber Garners Pair of Business Awards

Sterling Lumber

Carter Sterling, third from left, is among winners of Ernst & Young’s 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year for the Midwest region.

Lightning struck Sterling Lumber Company of Phoenix, IL, in a good way. The company was recently recognized for its business leadership in separate award ceremonies, one by accounting firm Ernst & Young and the other by the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation (CSEDC).

Ernst & Young named Carter Sterling, CEO of Sterling Lumber, as its EY Entrepreneur of the Year for 2016 in the Midwest Region. The award recognizes trending entrepreneurs who have elevated their respective companies in the areas of innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

The 60-year-old family business is a national leader in the production and installation of ground protection mats for the building of electrical transmission and distribution networks, as well as major highway and bridge infrastructure and the oil industry. Sterling Lumber has been listed on Crain’s Fast Fifty in each of the last two years and has amassed a five-year growth rate of 569 percent.

Sterling Lumber has also been active in the Chicago-area urban wood market, including partnering with the Chicago Park District on a number of initiatives such as using felled park district trees to remodel the Bears Den at Soldier Field. Its division, Sterling Tree Solutions, is an active member of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team and sponsored the Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference held in March.

Sterling accepted the award on behalf of his father and brothers during a black tie gala held at Navy Pier. “The timing of this award couldn’t be better,” Sterling said. “It reflects an amazing year of growth and accomplishment for our company. We’ve evolved from supplier to manufacturer in a single leap, with the goal to dominate industry sales.”

Throughout its three decades in existence, the EY Entrepreneur of the year has honored the inspirational leadership of entrepreneurs such as Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, Robert Unanue of Goya Foods, and Mindy Grossman of HSN. Recent U.S. national winners include Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn; Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani; and 2015 winners Andreas Bechtolsheim and Jayshree Ullal of Arista Networks.

As a Midwest Award winner, Sterling is eligible for consideration for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 national program. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur of the Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur of the Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, CA, on Nov. 19. Read more about the EY Award.

Sterling-Lumber-Big-Shoes-AwardCarter Sterling was also on hand when his father John and his family were presented with 2016 Big Shoes Award by the CSEDC.

Phoenix Mayor Terry Wells told the crowd of 150 in attendance that the Sterling family was well worthy of the Big Shoes Award for bringing its business to his south suburban town.

Read more about the Big Shoes Award.