Category: News

Update on the Urban Wood Network-IL Chapter

We held our first in-person meeting of the new UWN-IL chapter on March 9 at the showroom of Icon Modern in Chicago. Twenty people attended including 10 via Zoom.

Thank you Rocky Levy, owner of Icon Modern and long-time urban wood advocate, for hosting us.

The meeting featured presentations by three current UWN-IL members on why they joined the chapter including Max Brown, village forester of Glen Ellyn; Rocky Levy of Icon Modern; and Erika Horigan of Horigan Urban Forest Products. We also had great discussions on what is needed next for UWN-IL including connecting with the Illinois DNR, municipal park districts, lumber suppliers and other end users. There was also interest in seeking grant funding for UWN-IL to help propel urban wood into the marketplace and to highlight the benefits of using urban lumber.

Full minutes of the March 9 meeting will be available at our next hybrid chapter meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. May 19.

The in-person meeting will be held at Horigan Urban Forest Products, 2302 Meadow Lane, North Chicago IL 60064. For those unable to attend in-person, the meeting will also be held on Zoom.

As of now, chapter meetings are scheduled to take place on the third Thursday of odd-numbered months.

To get on our mailing list to receive UWN-IL news and event updates, including a Zoom link for the May 19 meeting, email Erika Horigan at

All urban wood stakeholders including tree care specialists, sawyers, woodworkers, architects, municipal managers, urban foresters and others are encouraged to attend our chapter meetings. Membership benefits include branding opportunities, sharing best practices with other members, and participating in educational webinars and workshops.

FYI: The Urban Wood Network will soon launch a revamped website. It will include an area devoted to UWN-IL. Stay tuned.

Icon Modern to Host UWN-IL Chapter Info Meeting on March 9

What are the goals of the new Illinois Chapter of Urban Wood Network (UWN-IL)?

Who is eligible to join?

What are the benefits of membership?

Find out the answers to these and other questions, plus get yours answered by attending the first live meeting of UWN-IL scheduled for 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 9, at the showroom of Icon Modern in Chicago. The meeting will also be available via Zoom for those unable to attend the in-person meeting.

The meeting will be highlighted by a panel of three urban wood stakeholders, who will share their reasons for joining UWN-IL. In addition, Kari Devine, executive director of the Urban Wood Network, will particpate via Zoom to provide updated information about UWN including plans for a new website that will spotlight individual state chapters and their members, as well as other membership benefits.

Icon Modern CHciago Showroom

Icon Modern will host the March 9 UWN-IL meeting at its showroom located at 346 N. Justine St., Chicago.

UWN-IL was launched last month to work with the Urban Wood Network and other state chapters on promoting the social, environmental and economic value of urban wood and to maximize the value of trees removed due to pests, disease or other circumstances.

The March 9 meeting is being organized by the UWN-IL steering committee. Its members include:

  • Max Brown, Village Forester of Glen Ellyn;
  • Rich Christianson, Editor & Publisher, Urban Wood Update;
  • Cherie Fisher, Social Scientist, USDA Forest Service;
  • Erika Horigan, co-owner of Horigan Urban Forest Products, chairperson;
  • Rocky Levy, co-owner Icon Modern;
  • Jeff Perkis, Project Architect at Dewberry;
  • Jeff Prokash, Instructor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and
  • Steve Skorup, Owner, SAWINC.

All urban wood stakeholders including tree care specialists, sawyers, woodworkers, architects, municipal managers, urban foresters and others are encouraged to attend the meeting. Membership benefits include branding opportunities, sharing best practices with other members, and participating in educational webinars and workshops.

Learn more about the benefits of joining the Urban Wood Network and sign up to become a member at

March 9 Meeting Options
The in-person meeting will be held at Icon Modern, 346 N. Justine St., Chicago; phone 312-469-0788.

Use this link to join the meeting via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 816 2010 2076
Passcode: 354084

For additional information, contact Erika Horigan, UWN-IL Steering Committee chairperson,

We look forward to your participation and hope you will join the UWN-IL urban wood movement!

Seizing the Value of Fallen Trees

How circular economics for urban wood waste can grow in New York City; Pittsburgh and Eugene, OR.

By Marisa Repka, Co-Founder and CFO of Cambium Carbon
& James Anderson, Associate II, Natural Infrastructure, World Resources Institute

A Brooklyn tree felled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Imagine two trucks passing on a city street. One is a delivery truck carrying new wood flooring and furniture to stores and homes in the city. The other is carrying a fallen city tree damaged by a recent storm, taking it out of town to be mulched, burned or sent to a landfill.

This scenario plays out every day in urban communities around the world and represents a huge, missed opportunity for cities, consumers and the climate. Trees offer various benefits for cities, yet 36 million trees come down in cities across the United States each year due to disease, development or old age. Much of this wood ends up burned, chipped into mulch or tossed into landfills, despite its potential to become a valuable product.

The “reforestation hubs” model allows cities to create new value from fallen urban trees. Rather than

continuing business-as-usual urban wood waste, cities can help recover and “upcycle” that waste into higher-value products such furniture, flooring and construction material. The revenue that is generated from the sale of those items and the reduced cost of wood waste disposal can then funnel back into urban forestry projects, such as planting new trees or maintaining existing trees.

New case studies by Cambium Carbon and the Arbor Day Foundation show that there is a substantial urban wood re-use opportunity in three major U.S. cities that are part of the Cities4Forests network. If cities seize the opportunity to build a wood reuse market, they can save money, provide new resources for urban forest restoration and see significant climate benefits.

Salvaging Wood Waste from Pittsburgh
Nested along steep hillsides prone to erosion, Pittsburgh, PA, is on a mission to restore its degraded landscapes. The city hopes to plant 100,000 trees by 2030 and combat a 6.2 percent tree canopy decline from 2010 to 2015.

Pittsburgh’s tree loss has affected the city in various ways. In 2020 alone, Pittsburgh removed more than 1,300 trees from public land at a cost of roughly $27 per ton for contracted disposal. Trees are typically removed in two- to three-foot sections, with smaller-diameter limbs and brush ground up for mulch, compost or boiler fuel. This process releases the carbon stored in trees back into the atmosphere. And in addition to the cost of disposal, the city loses an estimated $250,000 annually from the unrealized economic value of the material.

Wood waste use presents an opportunity for the city to cut costs, meet its urban forestry goal and increase material efficiency. The study identifies opportunities for the city to use its wood waste stream to make products necessary for new planting, such as tree stakes or mulch. While the city’s current contract for wood waste management entitles it to a portion of finished mulch or compost, very little of that material is claimed in practice. This is due to gaps in communication between disposal and new procurement, as well as existing mulch not being ground to the specifications required for reuse. Returning the city’s own wood waste to the landscape can not only advance zero waste initiatives, but help the city avoid new procurement costs. This would free up the critical urban forestry budget needed to care for and restore the city’s tree canopy.

Catalyzing a Wood Waste Economy in Eugene
Eugene, OR’s rich legacy as a regional center for forest product manufacturing provides a unique opportunity for the city to create a commercial market for salvaged wood and get fallen logs into the hands of local processors. The city removed roughly 1,000 trees in 2020, which contained as much as 50,000 board feet of merchantable wood. That’s enough material to stretch a whole mile long and almost 10 feet across with one-inch slabs of wood. At the same time, the team behind the study identified 76 wood millers, secondary wood product manufacturers and potential buyers in the area who could make a market from this wood.

Cities need fixed infrastructure to process and up-cycle urban wood. Therefore, the study recommends using a shared sorting yard to aggregate logs from sources such as city crews, tree care companies and the local electric utility. In turn, a public-private partnership — such as a model pioneered in Eau Claire, WI, by the nonprofit Wisconsin Urban Wood — could enable local sawyers and millers to use and process the material through their existing facilities. Eugene’s legacy as a logging town also offers the private sector capacity and critical expertise needed to mill, dry and sell recycled wood as products such as tables, furniture or flooring. This makes a compelling case for the city to collaborate with local artisans and manufacturers, rather than oversee its own processing infrastructure.

Centralizing New York City’s Wood Waste Processing
Between 2015 and 2020, New York City removed an average of over 12,000 street and park trees each year. Most tree material was chipped on site, allowing for easier transportation and disposal outside of the congested urban environment. The city also has a decentralized urban forestry system in which each of the five boroughs operates its own forestry team. This largely siloed approach makes it even more complicated to manage a massive wood waste stream.

Waste management costs also pose a major challenge. With real estate and transit at a premium, the cost to have wood waste hauled and disposed — known as a “tipping fee” — can be up to $70 a ton. These costs can be significantly increased after severe storm events: 2020’s Hurricane Isaias downed nearly 3,400 trees in New York City parks, leading to a bill of more than $1.5 million for the city’s wood waste management that year.

The case study found that establishing a centralized sorting and processing operation to recycle fallen wood from Brooklyn and Queens alone could provide a net present value of $7 million over 10 years in addition to savings from avoided disposal fees. A reuse program within the city could also avoid significant transportation and disposal emissions, as the city would no longer have to truck waste outside of the city and state. Additionally, local processing would allow for carbon storage in durable wood products, much of which would otherwise be released during burning, mulching and decomposition. In addition to reduced transportation emissions, the study estimates that over 10,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions can be reduced through a pilot wood reuse program through carbon storage alone.

Scaling the Urban Wood Opportunity
The urban wood opportunity is not limited to these three cities. While specific wood waste management strategies will vary according to local context, these new assessments can help identify best practices for peer cities looking to make the most of their fallen trees.

For example, cities can create unified asset management systems for tree data. All three cities had an issue with fragmented information management, as various agencies (such as planning and zoning, public works, and branches of parks and recreation) kept separate tree records. As a result, tree removals were not measured or managed in a cohesive fashion. Other cities may be able to establish centralized log collection infrastructure, as pioneered by Baltimore. Other cities, including members of Cities4Forests, may wish to revise policies, such as setting new contractor requirements for disposal or establishing a local preference for city procurement.

Regardless of next steps, one thing is clear: Cities have a lot to gain from seizing the value of their fallen trees. While these case studies provide three models for wood reuse, it’s up to government leaders across the nation to develop full life cycle management strategies for city trees and discover how reforestation hubs can benefit their communities.

This story first appeared on WRI.

Room & Board launches table line made with reclaimed ash nationwide

Room & Board Orlin Dining Table

Room & Board is selling its Orlin table, made with salvaged ash wood, online and at its 20 retail stores nationwide.

Room & Board has teamed up with Wood From the Hood (WFTH) and Siewert Cabinet & Fixture Manufacturing in introducing its Orlin table line. The tables are produced using lumber reclaimed from Minneapolis-area ash trees. All three companies are based in Minneapolis.

Room & Board is selling the contemporary Orlin dining and coffee tables nationally online and through its 20 retail stores. According to a blog posted on Room & Board’s website, the tables’ designs “pay homage to Minnesota’s Scandinavian heritage.” The tables retail for $999 and up.

Lumber for the tables is milled by WFTH from ash tree that have been felled mainly due to emerald ash borer infestation. The tables are being manufactured by Siewert Cabinets, a sister company of WFTH. 

“By salvaging this environmentally friendly wood, they’re creating a material that becomes sustainable furniture. Wood From The Hood’s sustainable values and local Minnesota home makes them an ideal partner.”

Room & Board Orlin Coffee Table

The Orlin collection is the latest extension of Room & Board’s Urban Wood Project which started with reclaiming lumber from deconstructed row houses in Baltimore.

Room & Board, a founding member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, has staked its reputation on designing and selling products made with sustainable materials. In addition to urban and reclaimed wood, Room & Board uses recycled plastic, metal and fabrics in its home furniture products. The company says that 90 percent of its products are made in the United States and sources its products from a network of manufacturers located throughout the continent.

IL Chapter of Urban Wood Network Officially Launches

It’s official. Urban Wood Network – Illinois Chapter (UWN-IL) has formally been established as has a steering committee to set goals, beginning with recruiting new members.

Erika Horigan, member of UWN-IL, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding completing the application process joining Wisconsin, Michigan and other states that have become state-chartered members of UWN. 

UWN-IL will work with the Urban Wood Network on primary goals, including promoting the social, environmental and economic value of urban wood and to maximize the value of trees removed due to pests, disease or other circumstances

Members of the UWN-IL steering committee include:

  • Max Brown, Village Forester of Glen Ellyn;
  • Rich Christianson, Editor & Publisher, Urban Wood Update;
  • Cherie Fisher, Social Scientist, USDA Forest Service;
  • Erika Horigan, co-owner of Horigan Urban Forest Products, chairperson;
  • Rocky Levy, co-owner Icon Modern;
  • Jeff Perkis, Project Architect at Dewberry;
  • Jeff Prokash, Instructor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and
  • Steve Skorup, Owner, SAWINC.

Plans are in the works for a new membership information meeting to be held March 9 at Icon Modern’s facility in Chicago and via Zoom. Further details, including registration, will be announced soon.

All urban wood stakeholders are welcome to join UWN-IL including tree care specialists, sawyers, woodworkers, architects, municipal managers, urban foresters and more. Membership benefits include branding opportunities, sharing best practices with other members, and participating in educational webinars and workshops.

Learn more about the benefits of joining the Urban Wood Network and sign up to become a member at

For additional information about becoming a member of UWN-IL, contact Erika Horigan.

Don Peterson, Founding Executive Director of Urban Wood Network, Passes Away

Donald “Buck” Peterson, a career forester, consultant and urban wood advocate, died of natural causes while working at his Crystal Falls, MI, office on Jan. 3. He was 65.

Peterson was instrumental in establishing the Urban Wood Network in 2017 and served as its executive director until late 2021.

Peterson graduated from Michigan Technological University in 1979 with a degree in Forest Management. He worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for 12 years serving various roles including forest ranger and forest products marketing specialist. In 1997, he moved to the private sector and became executive director of the Forest Industry Safety and Training Alliance.

In 2001, Peterson founded Renewable Resource Solutions based in Crystal Falls, MI. RSS provided consulting services to help clients achieve their natural resource goals spanning a diverse range of topics including biomass projects, feasibility studies, urban logging projects, and timber sales. 

Read Peterson’s obituary.

Online Directory Lists More than 80 IL Custom Sawmills

In need of a local sawmill in Illinois to convert your removed urban tree into value-added lumber? Then look no further than the Illinois Directory of Custom Sawmills and Woodworkers.

The directory, produced by Jay Hayek of Extension Forestry at the University of Illinois, provides a map-based directory of more than 80 custom sawmill operators and turn-key woodworkers. 

The interactive directory includes the services of each operations, plus address and contact information. It’s a big improvement over the former PDF-based directory of custom sawmills in the Land of Lincoln.

The website notes, “This directory is a work in progress and is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all custom sawmills and woodworkers in the state of Illinois.”

If your custom sawmill operation is not included, contact

Access Directory

Wood-Mizer Anoints Sinker Cypress Desk As Top Furniture Project

Kyle Snellenberger’s hotel lobby desk made from a sinker Cypress log took first place in the 2021 My Wood-Mizer Project competition. Snellenberger said he pulled the log out of the Ouachita River in Louisiana. The log was milled into 3-inch slabs using a Wood-Mizer LT15 wide sawmill.

Wood-Mizer awarded more than $25,000 in prize credits to 30 winners in 10 categories.

Check out all of the projects entered, including homes, cabins, tables, bridges, barns, and more milled and made by Wood-Mizer portable sawmill owners.



Invitation to Take Part in Urban Wood Network-IL’s Dec. 2 Next Steps Zoom Meeting

Dear Illinois Urban Wood Stakeholders,
We held an exploratory meeting of for the Urban Wood Network (UWN) Illinois Chapter on September 20.  Sixteen people, including arborists, sawyers, municipal managers and woodworkers, were in attendance. We were also joined by Kari Devine of the Urban Wood Network. She provided information about UWN membership benefits including branding, marketing, and educational resources.
We got some great feedback from the Zoom meeting and an enthusiastic response to move forward. For those who attended, you’ll be receiving a follow up e-mail with a recap of that meeting. 
We’ll be holding our next UWN meeting to further explore the needs of the Illinois Chapter and establish a steering committee at 10 a.m. December 2.
I sincerely hope you will join us. Please sign up in advance.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Erika Horigan
Horigan Urban Forest Products, Inc.
Horigan Tree Care, LLC



Now Streaming: Chicago’s Urban Forest Metrics

Chicago Urban Forest Tree app

“My City’s Trees,” allows users ranging from backyard gardeners to city planners and policy makers to explore data associated with Chicago and other cities in the United States.

Urban trees cool cities and clean the air, and the number of urban trees and where they are matter. As part of the Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis program of the USDA Forest Service, Chicago is now one of a growing list of cities where anyone interested in urban forests can use an application called “My City’s Trees” to explore where trees are, where they aren’t, what kinds of trees are growing, and a plethora of other forest metrics. 

“My City’s Trees,” developed through a partnership between the Forest Service and the Texas A&M Forest Service allows users ranging from backyard gardeners to city planners and policy makers to explore data associated with Chicago and other cities in the United States using various spatial themes such as surface temperature, NLCD Land Cover and a Social Vulnerability Index.

Urban areas in the contiguous United States occupy 2.7 percent, or 60.2 million acres, of the land base and contain nearly 81 percent of the U.S. population. Healthy urban tree canopy and sustainable urban land management can help mitigate the environmental impacts of urbanization, and an understanding of the amount of urban forest, the species of trees it includes, and how urban forests change over time is important to managing them. The Forest Service’s Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis program was designed to deliver this information to cities and communities throughout the nation. 

 “My City’s Trees is an important step to understanding and managing our cities’ living infrastructure,” said Mike Brunk, Illinois Urban and Community Forestry Administrator. “Knowing what we have, where we have it and how it is changing provides invaluable resources for communities to live, breathe and grow. The viability of our cities and communities in which we live has direct correlation with our health and the health of our human environment. The study of our urban canopy and the ability to see and compare tree/city relationships will be an invaluable tool to assist people, leaders, and policy makers, in pursuing growth, longevity and harmony for our living infrastructure.”

While the Forest Service will ultimately publish reports on the Chicago urban forest inventory, releasing data via the My City’s Tree application makes information available to all of the community’s urban forest stakeholders more rapidly. The application allows users to learn about the important services trees in their own city provide including:

  • Numbers of trees by species and other attributes;
  • Urban forest carbon stocks and leaf biomass;
  • Compensatory values, which are estimates of the value of the forest as a structural asset, meaning a compensation amount for the physical loss of the trees;
  • Residential energy savings due to tree shading and microclimatic effects of urban trees (currently in development);
  • Surface water runoff that was avoided because of urban trees; and
  • Air pollution removed by trees, plus the economic value of avoided human health impacts from pollution removal by trees.

In addition to adding beauty, neighborhood trees moderate air and water pollution, reduce heating and cooling costs, and provide shade and shelter from hot summer sun. Healthy trees can provide wildlife habitat and improve real estate values. Research is showing that trees improve mental health, strengthen social connections, and reduce crime rates. The My City’s Trees application helps users investigate the impacts and benefits of trees in their own city and others across the nation.

“The Forest Inventory & Analysis Program is continually improving our data collection, analysis and delivery methods,” said Mark Majewsky, the team leader for the Urban FIA program. “My City’s Trees is a big step forward in delivering information that people can use in making a whole range of decisions, from which tree to plant in the front yard to justifying the expenses associated with urban forests.”

The Chicago Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis (UFIA) data will provide continually updated information about changes to the city’s urban forests, directly supporting local programs such as the Chicago Region Trees Initiative while also adding to the base of knowledge about urban forests across the United States. Currently, 40 cities are participating in Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis program, and the program aims to include more than 100 cities, allowing for a strategic national inventory of urban forests.


The mission of the Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).