Monthly archives: January, 2017

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


Dovetail Partners Reports on Worldwide Biorefinery Growth

Wood-ChipsWhile furniture-grade lumber is the best, possible use for urban wood, many trees and their residuals might be best suited for burning to create heat or energy. This would still be a better alternative than landfilling.

The worldwide growth of biofuels, including woody biomass, is explored by Dovetail Partners in its new report, “Global Production of Second Generation Biofuels: Trends and Influences.” The report summarizes the growth of second-generation biofuel facilities since Dovetail’s 2009 report and some of the policies that drive that growth. It also briefly discusses biofuel mandates and second-generation biorefinery development in various world regions.

Learn more and download the report.


TCIA Releases Statement on A300 Urban Forest Products Standard Status

TCIA-LogoThe Tree Care industry Association recently issued a statement confirming and explaining the ANSI-accredited Standards Committee’s vote last fall to terminate the A300 Part 11 Urban Forest Products project for the time being.

Following is the statement dated January 10, 2017 from Bob Rouse, chief program officer of TCIA and A300 secretary.

Re: A300 Part 11 Urban Forest Products Status

While we recognize the need for guidance in the wood utilization marketplace, the ANSI‐accredited Standards Committee A300 believes this project falls outside the scope of tree care management standards at this time. The main considerations that resulted in this decision are:

  1. Commercial arboriculture doesn’t control the marketplace specifications as the end users (buyers) provide the specifications;
  2. The marketplace for urban forest products is small and regional, most commercial tree care companies produce only wood chips for free distribution or for disposal; and,
  3. A Best Management Practice, written by the ISA is a better first step to develop Urban Forest Products guidelines.

Dr. Richard Hauer (University of Wisconsin Steven’s Point and the ISA representative on the ASC A300) and Dr. Eric Wiseman (Virginia Tech) have volunteered to spearhead the effort and are looking for volunteers to assist.

As a result, the ASC A300 voted at the Fall 2016 meeting to terminate the A300 Part 11 Urban Forest Products project for the time being. TCIA has agreed to release copyrights relating to this project to qualified groups, so that draft standards and appendices can be used by others. As the commercial practice matures, an industry standard may become necessary.

Going forward, a technical advisory committee will be assembled to guide development of the BMP and ISA will reach out to potential contributors once a production schedule is established. Those interested in contributing to the BMP should contact the ISA Educational Goods and Services department. Visit for information about the ISA Educational Goods and Services department.

Bob Rouse, MS, AStd
A300 Secretary
Chief Program Officer

Editor’s note: Since receiving the above memo, the Illinois Wood Utilization Team, was informed that any formal inquiries about a potential urban forest products BMP should be sent to Associate Director of Educational Goods and Services, Alex Julius,

ANSI A300 is comprised of voluntary industry consensus standards developed by TCIA and written by a committee called the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) A300, whose mission is to develop consensus performance standards based on current research and sound practice for writing specifications to manage trees, shrubs, and other woody plants. Learn more about the current A300 standards.

Urban Wood Used in Oak Park LEED Platinum Project

The Park District of Oak Park’s Austin Gardens Environmental Education Center, a LEED Platinum facility, features interior wood trim salvaged from trees removed from parkland due to infestation by the emerald ash borer or old age.

The 2,100-square-foot facility, which opened last June on the 3.6-acre Austen Gardens urban forest, is used for children’s nature day camps, environmental education programs and other events.

The trim was repurposed from trees removed from Rehm Park and milled by Sterling Lumber of Phoenix, IL.

Other LEED-certified features of the energy efficient and sustainably designed facility include:

  • Geo-thermal system for heating, air conditioning and comfort control.
  • Photovoltaic array on the roof to supply the projected energy needs of the building – net zero (uses sun energy)
  • Greenroof – (absorbs rainfall, reduces heat loads, reduces carbon dioxide and produces oxygen.)
  • Storm water harvesting through a cistern and diversion for toilet flushing.
  • Raingarden/bioswales to absorb the cistern overflow and the excess rain run-off as a feature in the garden.
  • Very energy efficient mechanical systems in the building.

Learn more about the Austin Gardens’ renovation.


Rescued Wood: Habitat for Humanity Wisconsin’s Unique Answer to the EAB Problem

Did you know that Wisconsin’s dead urban trees could produce over 73 million board feet of lumber each year? Unfortunately, most trees removed from our cities and towns are usually fated for the chipper.

The Rescued Wood Program of Habitat for Humanity Wisconsin hopes to change that protocol by saving and recycling the best logs and creating a wide variety of remarkable resources and products. In partnership with the City of West Bend, WI, Habitat for Humanity of Washington, and Dodge Counties receives the city’s trees contaminated by the emerald ash borer or other pests. The city graciously delivers the logs to Habitat’s sawmill. In January 2015, Habitat for Humanity Washington and Dodge Counties of Wisconsin received a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to begin operating a sawmill in Kewaskum. Since then more than 20,000 board feet of milled lumber has been processed with the help of more than 100 volunteers.

The direct connection of the project to the non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity was formed by conscientious stewards of both the land and those who live on it. The need to reduce, recycle and repurpose has long been one of the many goals of the organization. Habitat for Humanity’s overall mission is to build simple, quality, affordable homes in partnership with the community and those in need. The connection between taking the doomed ash trees and creating the end product of trim for the homes built follows this mission on many levels.

State and local government agencies as well as multitudes of community organizations have embraced the Rescued Wood Program as an affordable, creative and purposeful project. Evidence of this can be seen in the 2016 build sites for Washington and Dodge Counties. Rescued wood has been milled, crafted and installed by countless volunteers into beautiful mission style trim for the windows, doors and baseboards for the West Bend, Wisconsin Habitat build. Approximately 1,200 board feet of Rescued Wood has been used for this project. There are plans for trim to be created for the Habitat build site in Juneau, WI, as well. Other Wisconsin Habitat affiliates are exploring options to create cabinetry with the wood.

Furthermore, purchase of the Rescued Wood milled lumber and the many other products and by-products of the program through Habitat for Humanity ReStores does more than provide a customer with beautiful, high-quality wood. It makes smart use of local resources. By supporting this program, the Washington and Dodge County ReStores are creating new markets, audiences, positive public relations and opportunities for the Rescued Wood Program. The added benefits include funding builds with increased ReStore sales.

Rescued Wood is currently available in five Habitat for Humanity ReStores located in West Bend, Germantown, Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and Sheboygan. These items bring in new audiences and markets. From the casual crafters and the serious artisans to local taxidermists and fine furniture makers, all have found the high-quality, low-priced wood to be an exciting addition to the ReStore product mix.

Many ReStores are beginning to target market the Do-it-Yourself crowd by creating an upcycled and Rescued Wood corner display.

Taking a piece of furniture with a surface that has seen a better day and exchanging it for a fresh new look gives the furniture not only more bang for the buck, but a repurposing that is in fashion right now and supported by many different individuals. From die-hard recyclers to purveyors of fine craftsmanship, buyers come in many forms, yet all see the beauty in the “cradle to cradle” concept of the wood.

The majority of the wood milled is ash, although there are other species that include red oak, honey locust and elm. Currently the mill offers 4/4 (1”) ash boards in varying widths and lengths as well as 8/4 (2”) live edge kiln dried slabs. Buying directly from the mill, a Restore is charged a $1.00 per board foot for the 4/4 and $1.95 per board foot for the 8/4 live edge as a shipping fee. Exact amounts are calculated at the mill upon pick up. However, the estimate is for approximately $1,000 per kiln load for the 4/4. All lumber is kiln dried in strict accordance with the DNR’s regulations.

Other products include firewood which is sold at approximately $60 per cord/pallet; live edge “flitches“ used for signage, crafts, art and taxidermy are sold at $0.50 per board foot. Bags of sawdust (approximately 50 pounds each) are sold at $5 a bag and used for mixing with latex paint to recycle. The live edge materials and firewood are sold only within the State’s EAB Quarantine area.

Yet another aspect of this Rescued Wood project involves training and educational opportunities. The mill runs throughout the year and accommodates many groups in search of new skills and volunteer opportunities.

The Rescued Wood Program hopes to go state wide in the future with the establishment of other Habitat for Humanity led operations or partnerships with local mills and kiln operations.

Learn more at


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.