The Chicago Park District’s (CPD) Department of Cultural and Natural Resources team recently initiated lumber milling at West Ridge Natural Area, 5800 N. Western Ave.
 
Gerry Hamm, owner of GH Hamm Woodworking & Sawmill, of Mundelein, IL, was contacted by Mike Dimitroff, manager of Art Initiatives, and Matt Freer, director of Natural Resources Natural Areas, to mill CPD trees infested with the emerald ash borer and downed logs at West Ridge. 
 
Dimitroff was joined by project manager Isaiah Ballinger and team members Alex Loepke, Krzysztof Makowski and Tyrone Murdo, to assist in the project.
 
The milling operation involved loading park district logs, which were cut and transported by CPD Forestry, under the direction of Mike Brown, to the West Ridge site. There, the logs were loaded onto the Hamm’s mill and sawed into full-length 3-inch-thick, live-edge slabs.
 
The slabs will be open-air cured, then cut to length and used as bench stock material. The new benches will be incorporated into CPD natural areas, like Big Marsh and Hegwish as well as other parks and natural areas’ settings.
 
According to Dimitroff, “This initiative demonstrates one aspect of a great, multi-team effort in continuing our DCNR sustainability mindset.”