Monthly archives: August, 2017

Spurned Woodworker Turns to Toronto for Urban Ash Lumber

By Rich Christianson

Custom woodworker Nicholas Hamilton Holmes can only imagine how many more products he would have crafted from urban wood if the City of Hamilton, ON, had allowed him to utilize some of the thousands of ash trees the city has been removing due to emerald ash borer infestation.

Holmes recently told me via email that, “Hamilton hasn’t really shifted their position as far as I know.”

The headline of February 2014 CBC News’ report pretty much summed up the situation: “Hamilton furniture maker wants to use ash borer wood, city says NO.

The article cited Toronto and Illinois as two examples of areas promoting the use of wood from trees felled by the emerald ash borer. It even quoted IL WUT’s own Edith Makra.

With Hamilton expecting to lose 22,738 trees to the EAB, one would think that the city would have been happy to spare even a few of the higher-quality logs the landfill to be made into something. But when Holmes asked the city for some of the ash logs to mill into lumber, he was not only turned away, but at one point told he would require $2 million in insurance coverage to haul city logs.

Rather than play the role of Don Quixote, Holmes decided not to battle Hamilton over its ash tree policy even though it frustrated him to see so much valuable wood go to waste. While the city’s rejection slowed him down, it hardly dissuaded him from using urban wood in some of his projects. He found a ready source of supply from nearby Toronto,which has taken a proactive stance on ash tree utilization.

Pictured above are a couple of items Holmes made from local urban ash wood. The Shell Table was made from two boards from the same tree milled by Sawmill Sid of Mississauga, ON. Hamilton displayed the table at a special exhibit of furniture and crafts made from Toronto-area ash trees at IDEX, an annual show attended by architects and designers.

Holmes also used urban ash for the Rhythm Rattles shown above and said he is “making a table for a client who had milled a walnut log from their property. I’ll be building it in the next few months and the wood  is looking really nice.”

Learn more about Nicholas Hamilton Holmes at

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



U.S. Forest Service Updates Nation’s Urban Forest Inventory

UFIAThe U.S. Forest Service is continuing to annually inventory and monitor the nation’s urban forests, an activity initiated by the 2014 Farm Bill. In its 2016 Business Report, The Forest Service notes, “Urban forests are the trees and other vegetation growing along streets and waterways, around buildings, in backyards and parks of our cities and towns…. For the purposes of Forest Industry and Analysis (FIA) sampling, urban forests are those treed areas nested within U.S. Census CBSA’s (metropolitan areas), UAUC (urban areas and clusters), and city/places.

Urban FIA (UFIA) started with two cities in 2014: Baltimore, MD, and Austin, TX. In 2015, data collection in both Austin and Baltimore continued and UFIA expanded data collection to include Milwaukee and Madison, WI; Houston, TX; Des Moines, IA; Providence, RI; and St. Louis, MO. Data collection expanded to include Chicago was added in 2016, as well as Burlington, VT;
Rochester, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Cleveland, OH; Kansas City and Springfield, MO.

In 2017, all four FIA units will have active UFIA projects in operation as the program expands into San Diego, CA; Denver and Colorado Springs, CO; Lincoln, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Detroit, MI; Wichita, KS; Fargo, ND; Portland, ME; and Minneapolis, MN. In 2018, data collection will include New York City, NY; Portland, OR; and Dover, DE.

Read the Forest Service’s 2016 Business Report.

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.


House Acts to Save Urban and Community Forestry Program from Budget Axe

Chicago-Urban-ForestThe House of Representatives Appropriations Committee recently released its proposed FY 2018 budget, which includes $27.3 million for funding the Urban and Community Forestry Program (U&CF). While this represents a $716,000 reduction from what was allocated this year, it can still be viewed as a victory as the Trump Administration’s FY 2018 budget would have eliminated all funding for the program, according to the Sustainable Urban Forestry Coalition (SUFC).

“All things considered, this is a win for us and we should be pleased with our work thus far,” said Rebecca Turner, co-chair of the SUFC public policy working group. “We’ve got to keep the pressure on the Senate for a similar level.”

According to letters addressed to budget leaders of the House and Senate by the SUFC, the U&CF managed by the U.S. Forest Service, positively impacted more than 7,800 communities and 200+ million people in all 50 states and U.S. territories. “U&CF is a high-impact program and a smart investment as federal support is often leveraged 2:1 (or in many cases significantly more) by states and partner organizations. U&CF engages citizens in cities and towns, brings together diverse partners, public and private resources, and demonstrates that federal investment can have huge and lasting impacts on communities of all sizes.”

The SUFC Policy Working Group and the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Alliance for Community Trees Program conducted a webinar, attended by more than 200 people,  to explain the budget process and how to get involved to advocate for Urban and Community Forestry and national appropriations.Click here to access the archived webinar.

Learn more about the Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Learn more about the Sustainable Urban Forestry Coalition.

How Raleigh’s Parks & Recs Department Re-utilizes Its Trees

Dovetail-Partners-Raleigh-NC-Urban-Wood-Use-StudyDovetail Partners, a renowned expert in forest sustainability, reviewed the City of Raleigh, NC’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources (PRCR) Department utilizing the Urban Forest Sustainability & Management Assessment System developed by Urban Forestry South – Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Athens, GA. The system is designed to provide a framework for comprehensively evaluating urban forest management programs.

The system includes a review of urban wood utilization and management programs of the city, which included extensive internal and external stakeholder engagement and consultation.

Check out the full report here.