Category: Blogs

EAB’s Path of Destruction Continues to Widen

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By Rich Christianson

The Emerald ash borer (EAB), the shiny green beetle with an insatiable appetite for ash trees that jump-started the urban wood movement, continues its deadly march across North America.

According to the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network, a website maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, EAB is now found in 35 states and five Canadian provinces. When we last checked in March 2018 – see map below – EAB had been detected in 31 states and two provinces.

Added to the list of state’s with EAB detections within the last 18 months are Maine, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. The provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are also new to the map that is periodically updated by the Forest Service.

Florida and Mississippi are the only states east of the Mississippi that have yet to have any reports of EAB infestations. However, Florida, along with Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming have state EAB information available, according to the EAB Information Network.

According to the EAB Information Network, EAB “was originally discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia.”

The network also notes that EAB is blamed for killing hundreds of millions of ash trees in U.S., private and urban forests. The USDA has attempted to enforce quarantines of infested areas to halt or at the very least slow the spread of EAB.

The Associated Press published an article on Oct. 7 noting that removal of trees felled by the EAB will cost Nebraskans more than $1 billion over the next few decades. “(B)ut local governments probably won’t be able to afford the cost and it’s not clear how much help they’ll get from the state.”

Missouri is another state grappling with EAB infestation. According to a Nov. 6 report in the Springfield News-Leader, the exotic beetle has been found in 16 new counties, bringing the total to 75 counties throughout the state. The article notes that the city of Springfield budgeted $75,000 for its EAB response. That money was used for insecticides to protect some ash trees and to remove others either in poor condition or poor location.

 



Video: Good Wood Guys Mill Huge Black Cotton Log

Editor’s note: Saw a Facebook post that The Good Wood Guys had joined the Urban Wood Network and decided to check them out.

The Good Wood Guys of Great Falls, MT, is a company dedicated to milling and crafting furniture from salvaged urban trees. According to the Great Falls Tribune, Chris and Susan Crocker launched Good Wood Guys in 2015 and regularly treat members of the community and local organizations to sawmill demonstrations and tours of their facility.

The company’s website notes that Chris holds a Master’s of Art in Secondary Teaching and has gained years of experience working in the lumber trade. Susan grew up working in her parents’ second-hand hardware store and has assisted Chris with everyting from fabricating heirloom table to remodeling projects. She is also a member of the Great Falls Woodturners’ Club.

The accompanying video is one in a series produced by the company. In their words, “Text Maxed out the Woodmizer milling this big (110″ length x 36-46″ diameter) Montana black cottonwood. Watch the Good Wood Guys get it through the mill and make some awesome Good Wood! Filmed October 2019.”

Learn more at GoodWoodGuysOnline.com.



Urban Wood Use Gets Thumbs Up in the Land Down Under

Editor’s note: We’re constantly on the look out for good stories about urban wood advocation no matter where they emanate. Our goal is to show that the urban wood movement is alive and well not only all over North America but beyond.

Such is the case about the following article authored by a trio of faculty at Australian National University. 

 

When a tree dies, don’t waste your breath. Rescue the wood to honour its memory

Turning a street tree into timber is much more respectful and useful than mulching it all.
Author provided

Cris Brack, Australian National University; Ashley Jameson Eriksmoen, Australian National University, and Rod Lamberts, Australian National University

Trees die. You don’t have to like it, but they do. And this comes as a surprise to some. A senior public servant once told one of us (Brack): “Trees don’t die; people kill them.”

Of course sometimes we kill trees, especially in urban areas where trees are regularly removed for reasons of safety or urban development.




Read more:
Our cities need more trees, but that means being prepared to cut some down


But more concerning than the death of a tree is how we waste them afterwards. In municipalities around the world, the trees are chipped into mulch. Not just the leaves and skinny branches and bark, but the whole tree.

It’s the least valuable, indeed least respectful, thing you can do with a tree.

 

Turning a whole tree into woodchips for mulch is the least valuable and least respectful thing you can do to it.
Author provided

In contrast, the wood can be rescued and used to craft furniture and other unique objects that honour the trees and their legacy of timber.

For those more poetically inclined, trees are literally made of our breath. By chipping them, we are wasting the breath of our past and making it harder to breathe in the future.




Read more:
Trees are made of human breath


Chipping trees means releasing carbon to the atmosphere as the mulch breaks down. It’s also a waste of high-quality timbers such as oak, ash, elm and cedar, which, ironically, Australia imports by the shipload.

When made into furniture, for example, the tree is transformed, the carbon stays bound and we have something both functional and beautiful.

 

Katalin Sallai’s Witness Tree Bench of Kingston (2016), 600 x 450 x 2000mm, Cedrus deodara (Himalayan cedar) from Kingston, mild steel.
Photo by Martin Ollman, Author provided

Urban forests can keep on giving

Salvaging quality timber is such an obvious win-win, you’d think everyone would do it. Sadly, there are many obstacles, including the difficulties of coordinating multiple public and private stakeholders and agencies.

To better understand the challenges and opportunities for urban timber rescue in Australia, we hosted a symposium at Australian National University in September 2019. Forestry researchers, public officials, craftspeople, teachers, students, conservation activists and city parks employees attended. They identified key values and concerns critical to reclaiming and distributing urban timber.

The symposium included a demonstration of how a portable (Lucas) mill could be quickly set up near a tree to cut it into useful timber. Operators can minimise waste by using bespoke cutting patterns to get the most valuable timber from each tree.

 

Street trees can provide valuable hardwood timber that, unlike woodchips, doesn’t release their stored carbon.
Author provided

 

Wood from a street tree is sawn and dried before the timber is given new life as a piece of fine furniture or other useful object.
Author provided

Participants from California described the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s Urban Wood Rescue program. Arborists, residents and the city work together to intercept logs from the waste stream. The timber is then made available to the public.

This program benefits from public trust that stems from decades of active tree planting across the city and genuine concern for the health of the urban forest. Recognising that the recovered wood is too good to waste is a natural extension of residents’ respect for their living trees.

Craftspeople and teachers from Canberra and other Australian cities discussed how providing quality timber to school students supports their love of making and develops their skills. One participant spoke of high school students being thrilled to work with such beautiful timber. They normally make do with cheap construction pine or broken-down pallets.

Rescuing and transforming the timber can bring people together to teach, learn and create. The object then captures not just carbon but a sense of the history of the tree and the place where it lived.

This is what the Witness Tree Project in Canberra, spearheaded by Eriksmoen, set out to do. Wood was rescued from just six of hundreds of trees scheduled for removal. The timber was distributed to six local woodworking artisans and furniture makers.

Their task was to creatively reconstruct a narrative of each tree and its neighbourhood. They transformed the trees into unique objects that delivered anecdotes and collective memories of local history and culture, culminating in a public exhibition.

 

The bench references the dimensions of the Himalayan cedar used for its timber.
Photo by Martin Ollman, Author provided

Katalin Sallai created the Witness Tree Bench of Kingston from a Himalayan cedar. The circular planter, containing a sapling of the same species, is the diameter of this tree when it was felled in 2013. The unfurling spiral arc of the bench seat describes the potential diameter of Himalayan cedar in ideal natural conditions.

Many references to Kingston, one of Canberra’s oldest suburbs, are embedded and engraved in the surface, including coins commemorating the queen’s 1954 visit. The bench is both an educational tool, describing the differences between a city tree and a rural tree, and a celebration of its own tree’s life and provenance as a witness to local history.




Read more:
Loving emails show there’s more to trees than ecosystem services


The recent symposium was also told of the positive effects of having living trees in our surroundings, including improved mental health, reductions in crime and better air quality. But this isn’t lost when the trees die. Recent research has shown wooden furniture and fittings in offices or homes can benefit mental health and reduce stress and sick days.

Seeing urban trees given a second life can also help ease eco-anxiety. Every tree removal can add to the sense of helplessness, but putting those trees to good use may create feelings of empowerment.

Four steps you can take

So don’t despair or whine when a tree is removed. Instead, make sure the wood isn’t squandered. Otherwise you are wasting your breath – twice!

Here’s what you can do:

  • raise awareness: tell people trees do die naturally, and city trees have shorter lives than their rural kin

  • demand action: tell your local representative that community trees are squandered on woodchips

  • buy local: buy products made from locally salvaged wood, not imported timber

  • get radical: if you’re the protesting type, chain yourself to a log to stop it being chipped.




Read more:
Where the old things are: Australia’s most ancient trees


The Conversation


Cris Brack, Associate Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University; Ashley Jameson Eriksmoen, Senior Lecturer, School of Art & Design, Australian National University, and Rod Lamberts, Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



NYC Declares Victory Over Long-horned Beetle

Forestry officials are celebrating the eradication of the tree-killing longhorned beetle in the urban forests of Brooklyn and Queens, its last bastions in New York City.

According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle the elimination of the long-horned beetle ends a more than 10-year battle by city, state and federal agencies, plus non-governmental groups and private landowners.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculated that the pesky beetle killed more than 24,000 New York trees since its arrival in Brooklyn 23 years ago. Nationwide, the tree is estimated to have been responsible for 180,000 tree deaths.

Strategies employed to eradicate the long-horned beetle included quarantines of trees and firewood, removal of 5,208 infested trees and treatment of more than 67,000 at-risk trees, the paper noted.

In announcing the beetle’s defeat, officials removed the six-year-old quarantine of Brooklyn’s urban forest.

Read the Daily Eagle’s full report.

 

 

 

 

 



How Frank Lloyd Wright Home Trees Became Furniture

 

By Steve Skorup

As an architecture teacher for 25 years at a suburban high school I would take my class to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright house and studio in Oak Park and a Habitat for Humanity home each year.

I wanted my students to be familiar with one of the world’s most famous architects and also to know where his career and the Prairie Style design developed. We visited the HFH site so they could also see affordable housing and how it meets client’s needs. In 2015 while at the FLW house I noticed an American Elm tree in front of the house had the “white dot of death” on it, meaning it was diseased and about to be removed.  I talked to the grounds care taker and he said it was the city’s responsibility since it was in the parkway.

Oak Park is a Tree City and keeps track of all its tree removals, replacements, and maintenance. I called city hall and explained about urban logging and about a higher usage of this resource. The person I spoke to said that Oak Park subcontracted large tree removal. I called the tree removal company and he said they would be removing the tree and selling it to a company that makes contractor construction planking. I explained to him what I do and where the tree was being harvested from and he said his father was a big FLW fan. I said that I would make a table for his father and his company if I could get the log. He agreed and we arranged a drop off. My partner at the time was Brandon Dobnick of Dobnick Timberworks and we had Wade Ellis of West Chicago to mill the tree into 2-1/2” thick live edge planks. These planks ranged in size from 4’ to 12’ long and 16”- 30+” wide.

After the milling and drying process was completed I was able to make the tables for the contractor, a table that took 1st place at the Sandwich County Fair, and several other tables and projects. I have the rest of the planks air drying in storage.

In 2018 I was contacted by the tree removal company and told that the next tree over from the initial tree at the FLW Home had also contracted Dutch Elm disease and would be removed. Would I be interested in it as well? Needless to say, I said yes and had those logs delivered. After sawing they will begin the air-drying process.

As an architecture teacher and a fan of FLW myself I thought others may be interested in furniture made from these historic trees. I just completed a kitchen remodel for a client friend and fellow FLW fan who had me make a live edge wine bar top and serving board for his new kitchen.

I was able to go into the FLW archives and find a picture from 1975 of the Home and Studio with the tree out front. I was unable to find any earlier pictures, but by counting the rings I figured the tree to be about 70-80 years old, so it was probably planted in the 1940s.  FLW left the home around 1909 and died in 1959 and so probably had no history with the tree. The Wright family sold the home in 1925.

I documented the removal, milling, and product construction of these items so future clients will have record of their history. I call my furniture made from specific client’s trees Heritage Furniture made from Legacy Logs and this project certainly fits that criteria. I hope this furniture with keep this valuable resource enjoyable for future generations.

Contact Skorup at sawinc.skorup@gmail.com.

Read related article about Skorup: Making the Transition from Teaching to Running an Urban Wood Business

 

 

 



Forest Service Slates Urban Wood Utilization Webinar for Oct. 8


The U.S. Forest Service is relaunching the semi-annual Urban Wood Utilization Webinar series with an update on standards for certification and chain of custody for urban, salvaged and reclaimed woods

The webinar is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

The webinar will also include regional reports of the urban wood movements. Confirmed speakers include Don Peterson, executive director of Renewable Resource Solutions, who was instrumental in the launch of the Urban Wood Network, and Jennifer Alger, CEO of Far West Forest Products and president of Urban Salvaged and Reclaimed Woods Inc.

No pre-registration is required to watch the webinar. Simply log into usfs.adobeconnect.com/uwu. 

The last Urban Wood Utilization Webinar was held in April 2018. Since then, Ed Cesa, the former host, has retired from the U.S. Forest Service.

Ann Sarnecki, partnership coordinator of the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, is now in charge of the webinars.

 Click here to access archived webinars dating back to early 2015.



Texas Urban Wood Firm Focuses on ‘Tree to Home’

Refined Elements, of Dripping Springs, TX, near Austin, along with its subsidiary Texas Sawmill, is engaged in transforming trees salvaged from Texas and nearby states into “naturally inspired furniture” and other custom wood products.

Devin Ginther, president, founded Refined Elements in 2013 , as a live edge furniture business. He said he stated Texas Sawmill in late 2017. “We are working to become the largest urban sawmill in Texas,” Ginther said. He hastened to add. “(That’s) not saying much as there’s not much of a sawmill industry here.”

Ginther said he is an “active member” of the Urban Wood Network “We are focused on being advocates for the urban lumber movement in Texas. As a state, we are far behind (others) but are working to change that!”  

The photos that accompany this post are but two examples of live edge tables milled by Texas Sawmill and transformed into furniture by Refined Elements. 

“All of our tables are produced from salvaged and rural trees,” Ginther said. “We also provide the history of the trees on the bottom of all of our tables along with paper certificates. Most of the slabs used to produce these tables, we physically salvage ourselves, mill, dry, etc.  We do all the metal and base work in-house, too. 

The first live edge table in the slide show is made from a black walnut that was removed in Longmont, CO. It is believed to date back to 1867.

The other live edge table shown is from a Texas pecan born in approximately 1904 in Brackettville, TX.  

Learn more at refinedelements.com and txurbansawmill.com.

Get your business or project profiled.



Add Your Voice in Support of ‘OAKtober’

Editor’s note: Information for the campaign requesting that Illinois continue proclaiming October “OAKtober,” was submitted by the Chicago Region Tree Initiative.

OAKtober- Oak Awareness Month: A Brief History

  • In 2015, the Chicago Region Trees Initiative spearheaded a project to raise awareness about 
    • the value of oaks and oak ecosystemsneed to restore them across Illinois
    • the need to restore them across Illinois
  • Our partners sent letters of support to Governor Rauner
  • Governor Rauner signed a proclamation instituting October as OAKtober- Oak Awareness Month in Illinois.

Continuing to raise awareness
New governor, same request! 
In the beginning of August we are submitting an OAKtober- Oak Awareness Month proclamation request to our new governor, J.B. Pritzker. Click here to read our request.

We need your help! Here are some ideas for how you can get involved with OAKtober – Oak Awareness Month:

  • First, send a signed letter of support addressed to Governor Pritzker from your organization. Use this template or draft your own, and forward it to Melissa Custic MCustic@mortonarb.org by August 7.

  • Plan an OAKtober event! Check the OAKtober website ChicagoRTI.org/OAKtober for inspiration: lectures, family days, guided hikes, native plant sales, stewardship days, and more! Event flyer templates and the OAKtober logo are downloadable and ready for use. Make sure to submit events here with keyword OAKtober.

  • Write an article or blog post about oaks in your area: why they’re important, what’s going on in your neck of the woods, where to paddle your canoe for the best oak appreciation, what oaks and companion species you’ve got for sale, and whatever is most relevant & important to your community.

  • Post to social media and use #OAKtober. (Tip: Posts that are brief and have pictures are shared most frequently!)

  • Let us know what you are doing (i.e. send pictures, updates, flyers, plans, etc) so we can share and promote your activities!    





How to Get Your Urban Wood Business Featured

Aspiring to inspire, that is one of the missions of Illinois Urban Wood.

For the last four years, this website has featured profiles of urban wood entrepreneurs across the country and Canada. Their profiles and urban wood projects also have been included in the monthly Illinois Urban Wood Update that is sent to nearly 1,000 subscribers.

Getting your business and projects featured is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Send me one to four photos of a project or projects to richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com.
  2. Include a brief description of the project or projects. Even bullet points will suffice.
  3. Include a link to your website if you have one.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Rich Christianson
Editor
Illinois Urban Wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



NC Urban Forest Council Plans Urban Wood Use Workshop

The North Carolina Urban Forest Council will present Urban Wood Use as part of its 2019 Carolina Canopy Workshop Series. The event is scheduled for Aug. 23 at Reedy Creek Park in Charlotte, NC.

According to the organizers, “A tremendous amount of sound wood is wasted regularly in communities across the state whenever shade trees must be removed. Most is ground to mulch at a significant cost to the municipality, or at best, cut into firewood. This workshop is intended to bring together suppliers, processors, and end users of urban wood who recognize the value of the resource and wish to make better use of the material. The workshop serves as a step to further develop the NC Urban Wood Groups in North Carolina and to link potential partners.”

Agenda

8:15 am     Registration

8:30 am     Welcome and Introduction

8:45 am     Certification Partnership to Support Urban Wood Utilization and Community Benefits

                 Katie Fernholz, Dovetail Partners, Inc

9:45 am     Washington DC Urban Wood Program

                 Duff McCully, District of Columbia

10:45 am   Break

11:05 am   Biochar – How it’s Made and What it Could Mean for Your Business

                 Bartlett Reseach Lab

12:05 pm   Lunch – provided by Arborguard Tree Specialists

1:05 pm     Expanding Business Opportunities in Urban Trees

                  Bill St. Pierre, St. Pierre Woodworking

2:15 pm     Virginia’s Urban Wood Program

                  Lara Johnson & Joe Lehnen, Virginia Department of Forestry

3:15 pm     NC Urban Wood Group Discussion and Next Steps

Reedy Creek Park (Shelter #3), Charlotte NC

For more information and to register, visit the NCUFC’s website.