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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.



Slideshow: Nebraska’s Ash Wood Showcase

 
The creative output of more than 20 woodworkers and artists was featured in the Ash Wood Showcase held last month at Turbine Flats in Lincoln, NE.
 
The event, part of Lincoln’s First Friday Artwalk, was facilitated by the Nebraska Forest Service. More than 200 people viewed the furniture and crafts, a sampling of which is displayed in the accompanying slideshow.
 
“The response was incredibly positive,” said Heather Norbert, forest products marketing coordinator for the Nebraska Forest Service. “During the event we also had our forest health staff there to answer questions about the emerald ash borer. They said they talked to more folks at this event than they typically do at agricultural events. The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department was there as were representatives from a few local wood products businesses. All in all the event was quite successful.”

The ash wood used in the showcase was donated by the city of Lincoln, milled by the forest service and dried at Big Red Sawmill in Palmyra, NE.

The emerald ash borer’s migration to Lincoln threatens more than 50,000 private and public ash trees. 



Oh No! Coronavirus!

The unsettling uncertainty gripping the world, alternatively known as the coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 crisis, has paused life as we know it.

On a personal level, my wife and I have – sadly – gotten use to taking “no” as an answer, as plans we eagerly looked forward to have been cancelled or at the very least postponed indefinitely. Just a short list:

  • No commencement for our daughter finishing her senior year at the University of Illinois.
  • No annual progressive dinner party with neighbors.
  • No birthday celebrations with family, In fact, no family get-togethers at all as we collectively practice social distancing to stall the spread of COVID-19.
  • No March 28 wedding shower for our oldest daughter and serious concerns cast for her June 27 wedding.

I know that each of you reading this post can rattle off a personal list of inconveniences created by the crisis, including possibly graver life and death matters. (I hope not.)

Just as major sporting events like March Madness and Major League Baseball have been cancelled or delayed, so have events tied to urban forestry, including, for example, Wisconsin Urban Wood’s March 25 membership meeting, the April 4 volunteer tree planting in Atlanta and April 30 Vermont Arbor Day Conference. 

I don’t know when, but I know we will get through this and be stronger for it. The optimist in me says I will keep my date to walk my daughter down the aisle. It’s with that same resolve of moving forward that I am working with the Urban Wood Network to organize the third urban wood seminar on August 26 at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. 

As I hunker down with my family to ride out the COVID-19 chaos, I see that the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Better days lie ahead.

Stay safe! Stay strong!
Rich Christianson

 



UWN Presents Urban Lumber Standards in April 8 Webinar

The Urban Wood Network (UWN) continues its 2020 webinar series on April 8 with Urban Lumber Standards. UWN invites municipalities, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers, advocates and all others interested in advancing the urban wood movement to participate in one or all of these 75-minute webinars.

Each of the webinars is scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. Pacific, 11 a.m. Mountain, 12 p.m. Central, and 1 p.m. Eastern. In addition, the recorded webinars will be archived on UWN’s website.

Webinar #2: Urban Lumber Standards – April 8, 2020
One of the things that keeps coming to light in order to take our industry to the next level and rescue more trees is to get urban woods specified by more architects and designers, and therefore sell more product, is the need for industry Standards and Chain-of-Custody. These standards and chain-of-custody certification will build confidence in architects and designers to spec locally grown urban wood products. After a peer review process and input from urban wood stakeholders from various backgrounds and experiences located coast to coast and Canada we now have Urban Wood Industry Standards and chain of custody certification. This webinar will highlight the new pathways for urban woods to be certified.

Join Webinar

UWN’s 2020 Future Visioning Webinar Series schedule:

  • The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning – March 11, 2020
    Watch on demand.
  • Urban Lumber Standards – April 8, 2020
  • Urban Lumber Business – May 13, 2020
  • What to do with the rest of the Tree(s) – June 10, 2020


Urban Wood Movement’s Growth Focus of IWF 2020 Seminar

Free presentation at North America’s largest woodworking event will highlight opportunities for woodworkers to leverage the unique local appeal and environmental benefits of using urban wood.
International Woodworking Fair

August 25-28, 2020

Seminar Organizer

Seminar Organizer

Sponsor

ATLANTA – The Urban Wood Network (UWN), in partnership with the International Woodworking Fair (IWF), will present a free seminar, “The Urban Wood Movement: Expanding from Coast to Coast.”

The 90-minute session is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 26. This represents the third consecutive edition of the biennial event to feature a seminar devoted to urban wood utilization. IWF, North America’s largest gathering of woodworking professionals and suppliers, runs August 25-28 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

“It’s amazing how far the urban wood movement has advanced since we held the first seminar at IWF 2016,” said Rich Christianson, editor and publisher of IllinoisUrbanWood.org, a website advocating the responsible reuse of felled community trees for lumber and wood products. “Since then, the Urban Wood Network has emerged as a rapidly expanding national association representing stakeholders up and down the entire supply chain including arborists, sawyers and custom woodworkers. We’re looking forward to sharing the latest information at IWF, including the creation of national standards and certification of urban wood lumber and products that will help drive market demand.”

“Lumber produced from urban wood can be utilized in a broad range of scales ranging from one-of-a-kind custom furniture pieces to large-scale construction projects,” said Don Peterson, executive director of the Urban Wood Network. “As detrimental as the wide sweeping urban tree mortality has been to communities, it has also made large volumes of urban wood available for conversion into lumber, providing enough resource for large scale projects.”

Christianson will moderate the session that will feature a trio of presenters, all representatives of companies belonging to the Urban Wood Network. They include:

  • Jennifer Alger, CEO of Far West Forest Products based in Sheridan, CA. Far West is a family-owned logging and sawmilling business that actively promotes the use of local native species and underutilized logs including reclaimed urban wood.
  • Carmen Rodriguez, chief marketing officer of Eutree based in Villa Rica, GA. Eutree is a boutique lumber mill that partners with Atlanta-area tree services repurpose trees as lumber, flooring, slabs and more.
  • Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products based in Milwaukee, WI. Wudeward exclusively sources Wisconsin Urban Wood in working with architects, interior designers, builders, homeowners, developers, manufacturers and furniture makers nationwide.

The panel of experts will discuss urban wood’s unique local appeal, environmental advantages, finding local sources, business benefits and more. The presenters will also answer questions about urban wood utilization directed by individual audience members.

The Georgia Forest Commission Utilization Department, which encompasses urban and community forestry, has signed on as the first sponsor of the IWF 2020 urban wood seminar.

For more information about the IWF urban wood seminar, including sponsorship opportunities, contact Rich Christianson at richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com or phone 773-822-6750.

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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 2020 is scheduled for August 25-28 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. More than 30,000 visitors registered for IWF 2018, which featured displays of machinery and supplies from nearly 1,100 companies covering 1 million square feet of exhibit space. Learn more and register at iwfatlanta.com.

About the Urban Wood Network
The Urban Wood Network (UWN) is a national association established to inform, collaborate and connect to build business and consumer confidence in the urban wood industry. UWN’s membership includes municipalities, government agencies, arborists, saw mills, woodworkers and other stakeholders in the United States, plus Canada and other countries. Learn more about the UWN and membership benefits at urbanwoodnetwork.org.



Award-Winning Book Celebrates Chicago Tree Project

Chicago-area Sculptor Margot McMahon, whose works with urban wood were featured here in a January post, is also the author of “The Fifth Season: The Chicago Tree Project.” The book won first place in the annual state-wide Mate E. Palmer Professional Communications Contest. McMahon’s salute to public tree art qualifies for judging in the NFPW national contest.

The book showcases 50 dead trees sculpted by 30 renown artists – including the author – gracing dozens of Chicago Park District parks.

From McMahon’s website: “The first section of the book is an explanation of the importance of keeping condemned trees in urban nature. The second section is poetry of the vital life within a dying tree including feeding birds, creating burrows for animals and interactions with the grove of like trees. The third section is a service workshop to care for the park and parkway saplings.”

The book, published by Lambert Academic Publishing, is available on Amazon

McMahon was recognized by the Illinois Woman’s Press Association with the 2019 Mate E. Palmer First Place Public Service Award for her contributions to the Chicago Tree Project. Learn more at thechicagotreeproject.org.



Grinnell College’s felled walnut trees graduate into benches

  • Small walnut bench displayed during 2019 alumni weekend at Grinnell College.
(Note: Slide captions at end of post.)
 
By Kevin Field
 
A while back, I received a very intriguing email. Grinnell College of Grinnell, IA, – my alma mater – was planning a major expansion of one of its oldest instructional buildings, and several very large, black walnut trees stood within the new-construction footprint.
 
Chris Bair, the college’s environmental and safety coordinator, contacted me and several other alum woodworkers to solicit proposals for using the urban (campus) harvest to create commissioned benches for the new and newly renovated buildings. A full circle. How cool was that?!
 
Luckily, I was able to meet with Chris onsite – before the trees were felled – to advise on sectioning, milling and air drying.
 
Howard McDonough and Mick Goebel slabbed the 70- to 80-year-old trees. Two years later, I transported a number of air-dried, 2” x 24” x 8’ black walnut slabs from Iowa to my shop in Westmont, IL. I air-dried them to 7% moisture content (MC) in my dining room over the winter. (I had to kick the wife out first – proceed with caution.) In the spring, I constructed two commissioned benches I designed for the college to display within the new building.
 
The ball-shaped defect in the close-up photo of the back rail of the longer of the two benches is a lead bullet! I found a number of bullets embedded in the tree, and was able to incorporate a visible example into the bench design under a clear epoxy filler. The presence of the bullets is an intriguing mystery as the walnut trees were located right in the middle of campus – not a location where guns would be expected to be fired.
 
Having strolled in the shade of those very walnut trees on my way to many a lecture class over the four years I attended Grinnell, it gives me great pleasure to know that the legacy of those majestic trees has been conserved and transformed into heirloom pieces of beautiful furniture that Grinnell students can continue to use and admire into the future. 
 
Kevin Field is owner of Field Joinery & Design Studio of Westmont, IL. Learn more at customwoodwerker.com.
 
Slide Captions
Slide 1: Shorter walnut bench on display in campus gallery during Grinnell College’s 2019 Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Slide 2: Wind motif flows into the natural grain pattern in back-rest panels.

Slide 3: One of the Grinnell College walnut logs is milled into lumber.

Slide 4: Walnut trees 1, 3, & 4 in the plan view were the source of the lumber used for the benches.

Slide 5: Some of Grinnell College’s walnut trees prior to removal.

Slide 6: Lead bullets shown in the position they were found encased in the walnut lumber, including two wedged against each other. They were incorporated into bench back-rail – visible under clear epoxy.

Slide 7: Carving book-matched back-rest panels achieved using rotary tool with burrs and reciprocating chisel handset.
 
Editor’s Note: We’re always on the prowl for interesting tales of urban wood use. Learn how to get your business featured.
 


UWN Slates ‘Future Visioning’ Webinar Series

The Urban Wood Network (UWN) kicks off its 2020 webinar series on March 11 with “The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning.”  UWN invites municipalities, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers, advocates and all others interested in advancing the urban wood movement to participate in one or all of these 75-minute webinars.

Each of the webinars is scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. Pacific, 11 a.m. Mountain, 12 p.m. Central, and 1 p.m. Eastern.

Webinar #1: The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning – March 11
The Urban Wood Network will present its vision to bring together urban wood industry members to inform, collaborate and connect to build community, business, and consumer confidence in the industry. 

  • Don Peterson, executive director of UWN, will share recently established local, regional and national partnerships, membership benefits, and upcoming educational opportunities for both members and non-members.
  •  Jennifer Alger will provide a brief update on the new partnership between the Urban Wood Network and Urban Salvaged and Reclaimed Woods.
  •  Paul Morrison of Wisconsin Urban Wood will share how the urban wood industry has evolved over the past 20 years; staring with the slow growth of scattered individuals to the current and rapidly growing trajectory that we are now witnessing. Morrison believes that these individual businesses must each define what makes them unique while also recognizing that the partnerships and potential of networking within an organization of like-minded businesses benefits each individual business and further insures our collective future.

Upcoming UWN Future Visioning Webinars
April 8: Urban Lumber Standards
May 13: Urban Lumber Business
June 10: What to Do with the Rest of the Tree(s)

Learn More | Register


Study compares EAB’s Impact: Vienna vs. Minneapolis

“Do differences in visual landscape preferences for EAB-impacted forest scenarios exist between forest visitors asked in EAB-impacted and EAB non-impacted cities?”

This is one of the essential survey questions posed to visitors of urban forests in Minneapolis, MN, and Vienna, Austria, where ash trees have been a significant part of the landscape. The big difference, however, is that Minneapolis has lost a large chunk of its ash population, while Vienna has not been impacted by EAB yet, but is expected to be threatened in the years to come.

The results of the survey are reported in a newly released study by Oxford Academic, “Differences in urban forest visitor preferences for emerald ash borer-impacted areas.” 

In the words of the The study’s authors: “As of 2019, there has been little research on the social impacts of tree health, although there seems to be societal concern about the impacts of tree pests like EAB. However, reported awareness about the presence of specific tree pests and forest management options is generally low (Marzano et al., 2017). Particularly in Europe, little is known about how EAB impacts might influence forest visitors’ site preferences, whether preferences differ among visitors, and whether visitor socio-demographic, recreational activities or their relationship with nature can explain this potential heterogeneity. As EAB infestation is already significant in many parts of both the United States and Russia, and imminent in Europe, knowledge about visitor preference heterogeneity is necessary for proactive and effective forest management. This need is particularly important for urban forest managers and planners as ash is a central component of European urban green infrastructure. If respondents’ preferences are homogeneous, it is easier to obtain agreement on forest management, but if there are segments with conflicting preferences, management becomes more challenging and requires additional efforts toward agreement and information about choices. Thus, the question arises as to how visitor preferences differ regarding changes in the forest landscape associated with EAB impacts and concomitant forest management, if and how visitor segments differ n their support for forest management actions, and what trade-offs among several factors (social, visual, managerial) exist.” 

A sampling of results:

  • The majority of respondents in Vienna had never heard about EAB (85.1%). About 13% of respondents had heard about EAB but had no knowledge about it while 2.4% said they had some knowledge of EAB and none of the respondents indicated they knew a lot about it.
  • Vienna respondents preferred a non-impacted mature ash forest, advanced stages of natural regeneration, dense trailside shrub vegetation and low trail user numbers. Relatedly, respondents disliked removal of most ash trees, viewscapes showing city buildings close to the trail, unleashed dogs and a visitor composition consisting of walkers only.
  • The higher relative importance of the EAB impacts and management attribute for Minneapolis respondents may be related to their higher awareness of the existing EAB risk for the ash trees. Seven years before this study, EAB was detected in the City of Minneapolis and in 2014, active EAB management was in full force with tree marking and removal.

Read the Study

 

 



NC Program Protects Most-Valued Ash Trees from EAB

The North Carolina Forest Service said its Ash Protection Program funded or partially funded the protection of more than 620 of the state’s most cherished ash trees in 15 North Carolina communities, municipalities and parks in 2018 and 2019.

The program was refunded for 2020, with applications being taken through Feb. 21.

The Ash Protection Program was created through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service. It provides financial assistance to urban forest managers, primarily NC municipalities, to protect ash trees using a pesticide treatment. The pesticide, which is injected directly into the tree trunk, reportedly protects the tree from emerald ash borer infestation for two to three years. Trees can receive a second injection to prolong protection.

Program funding prioritizes the preservation of trees with historical or recreational value, as well as those in high-visibility urban areas.

Learn more at the Ash Protection Program website.