Category: News

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. 

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


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, 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 or phone 773-822-6750.


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

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

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

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.

New Sculptures Breathe Fresh Life into Four Dying Trees

The sixth annual Chicago Tree Project, a collaboration of the Chicago Park District and Chicago Sculpture International (CSI), yielded four new tree sculptures gracing Chicago public parks in 2019.

The Chicago Tree Project was started in 2014 when the Chicago Park District was faced with the question of what to do with thousands of trees that had been infected with the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect encouraged by climate change that has been destroying millions of trees in North America for the last ten years.  The Park District approached Chicago Sculpture International (CSI), and together they created a program that would give some of these sick and dying trees a second life as a work of vibrant public art.

Over the years, artists have addressed the trees in a variety of methods, with traditional carving and various media that have been integrated into the trees.  The resulting tree sculptures have been wide ranging in subject matter as well, addressing scientific, spiritual and environmental themes.  These sculptures offer unique and often unexpected encounters for visitors to Chicago parks.  As long as they remain secure, the transformed trees remain standing. Seven of the tree sculptures have been de-installed in the interest of public safety.

Here’s a look at the newest Chicago Tree Project artworks.

Irene Hoppenberg
Lemon Tree
Lincoln Park
“My tree sculpture in Chicago is part of a series of various lemon trees which I have realized in the past. Lemons have a special meaning for me. I live in a northern country (Germany), and there, lemons are a symbol for the longing for the south, the sun and the light. My lemon tree in Lincoln Park is close to North Avenue each. This proximity to the beach provides a southern flair in summer and will remind people in winter of the coming spring.

“I hope that my tree sculpture brings joy to visitors to Lincoln Park but also serves as a visual comment how climate change could influence the natural environment and change its vegetation. The future of all living beings is the responsibility of each individual human and is defined by his actions.”

Anthony Heinz May
La Gioconda
Columbus Park
“Wisps of cubed block chains from woody material of a rotted and dying ash tree are reminiscent of singular human hair strands that might otherwise signify a frazzled, sick or unhealthy condition. The parody provides a dying aesthetic as found within ash trees, where what was once considered beautiful has succumbed to a slow death by infestation of the emerald ash borer. This sculpture simultaneously allows for death and demise of natural aestheticism while claiming a wholly human constructed one. In continuing direct blasphemy of Leonardo Da Vinci and his masterpiece (the Mona Lisa, otherwise known as La Gioconda), which is constantly appropriated for advertising and constant reinvention by modern lore for materialism—this sculpture from a dying tree is yet another example of conceptual theft of Da Vinci in title.”

Jonathan Schork
Thalidomide #12
Midway Plaisance Park
“Following up on tree-carving work I did in the Florida Keys during the ‘90s & ‘00s (partly inspired by the Ewing book, “The Body,” I was interested in creating the latest in a series called Thalidomide, this one number 12 in the series. The trunk and major branches are reduced to create a hand with fingers that have the appearance of a limb influenced by the pregnancy drug thalidomide, the concept being two-fold: 1. by questioning subjective notions of the beautiful and the grotesque, thereby destigmatizing anatomical deformities & amputations with a sculpture that celebrates unconventional morphology; and, 2. to continue to draw attention to the deleterious biological effects of drugs, toxins, and environmental pollutants on humanity, and especially on children and the poor.”

Susanne Ruoff
The Second Skin
Shedd Park
“A tree has died. It has lost all its leaves. With the project The Second Skin, it gets new leaves that cover and protect the old trunk.  The new leaves are cut from wood planks. This wood, too, has once been part of a living tree. Together with the dead tree, they create something new, something that hasn’t been there before.”


Visit the Chicago Tree Project’s website.

CSI Sets March 6 Deadline for 2020 Proposals
Chicago Sculpture International, in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, is seeking experienced artists and artist teams to give dying trees in Chicago parks new life. This RFP seeks an experienced artist (or artist team) to turn the tree into a sculpture:  beautiful, original, unique works of art that will become a distinguishing feature in the neighborhood. The approach can be additive and/or subtractive. The trees will be approximately 16-30 ft. tall and may include main side branches.

Artists will be paid a stipend of $3,500 upon completion of the tree sculpture.

Learn more about CSI’s Chicago Tree Project submission guidelines.


Urban Wood Use Action Guide Is Chock-Full of Resources

Photo: Urban Industrial NW

Vibrant City Labs has created the Urban Wood Use Action Guide, a new web-based platform dedicated to helping communities develop plans to utilize urban and deconstructed wood.

“Using recovered and fresh-cut urban wood to build and sustain vibrant communities.” is the site’s tagline.

Highlights of the guide include: 

  • Case studies, such as how Elkhart, IN, created value for urban wood in the wake of the emerald ash borer invasion.
  • Research on economic impact, waste management, product reuse and other urban wood topics.
  •  Urban Forestry Toolkit, a curated index of digital tools, apps, and calculators for urban forestry.
  •  Ssearchable library containing a curation of research papers, guides, ordinances and other resources deemed most helpful in making the case for urban forestry or making it happen in a community.

Access the Urban Wood Use Action Guide.

Alabama Sawyer Fills Big Order for Gulf State Park Eatery

Alabama Sawyer, a company devoted to converting removed urban trees into fine furniture, provided dining tables, a hostess stand, bench and other products for a restaurant at Gulf State Park in Baldwin County, AL.

The Birmingham-based company says it crafted all of the furnishings with Alabama white oak and pine.

Learn more about Alabama Sawyer at


Wisconsin Urban Wood Assists $10K Tree Planting Project

MADISON, WI – Volunteers and representatives of Wisconsin Urban Wood (WUW), Dane County Parks and Catalent Pharma Solutions recently planted 250 trees at the Prairie Moraine County Park in Verona, WI.

WUW received a $10,000 donation from Catalent’s Corporate Responsibility Grants Committee to plant the trees in an effort to help offset the environmental impact of eliminating 250 trees during Catalent’s recent site expansion. Wisconsin Urban Wood worked with Dane County Forester Specialist Adam Alves to coordinate the planting. Alves and his staff will maintain the planting as it grows into a producing orchard.

Wisconsin Urban Wood (WUW) is an organization committed to the social economic and ecological benefits of urban trees. WUW’s motto is Trees First, Wood Next. WUW members like Dane County share the understanding that trees are most beneficial to communities when those trees are growing healthy and strong, but when urban trees must be removed due to circumstance, WUW’s goal is to find the highest use for the removed wood. WUW consists of a partnership of municipalities, arborists, sawyers, kiln operators, makers, artisans, retailers, architects, organizations and advocates who work toward this goal.

Wisconsin Urban Wood is committed to the social, economic, and ecological benefits of urban trees. Partners share a distinct understanding that trees are most beneficial to communities when those trees are growing, healthy and strong. When urban trees have to be removed due to disease, pests or circumstance, our goal is to find those uses that best benefit our local communities. We connect those trees with local processors and woodworkers so the trees can be used for their highest and best uses in lumber, flooring, furniture, art, architecture, and a variety of goods made from wood.

Repurposing urban trees after they are removed changes the way industry sees its supply chain. People who manage urban forests and those that use wood in their projects are finding opportunities to connect and partner toward building new urban forest product markets, building stronger relationships between clients, consumers and communities in the process. Wisconsin Urban Wood is working to build common understanding, language, commitment and consumer confidence in an urban wood brand shared by our membership. We are poised to help individuals and businesses looking to expand their operation or start a new business dedicated to urban wood.

WUW is a Wisconsin DNR Green Tier Charter Member. The WDNR Green Tier program is a free, voluntary program which helps businesses achieve superior environmental performance through environmental management systems. Wisconsin Urban Wood is the flagship member of the Urban Wood Network which serves local urban wood associations and individual members throughout the United States and beyond.