“Urban Forestry” is the care of trees growing in or around a city. Most of these trees (millions of them) were planted by humans (land developers, landscapers, individuals, governments, etc.) so there are a huge variety of species that wouldn’t otherwise grow there. In the Denver Metro Area, there are hundreds of thousands of Black Walnut trees for example. Walnut is not a native tree and really doesn’t belong here, but put them all together, and we’ve got our own Walnut Forest! And since the city is over 150 years old, we have a lot of really big trees. Some of our natural forests aren’t even that old (due to fire, weather, beetles, etc).
“Urban Milling” is taking the trees from our city and turning them into usable lumber. Typically, city trees are chipped or chopped or a little of both. “Sawmill” doesn’t usually enter people’s minds when they’re staring at a giant Silver Maple tree laying across their driveway after a late storm. We aim to change that.
We’re working on getting a contract to mill up trees cut by a city forestry department. The city (for now to remain unnamed as the deal is still in the works) has given us unrestricted access to their wood pile to mill up as much as is possible. Every log we mill is one less log they have to push through the chipper – saving them money. On top of those savings, we kick 10% of the sales revenue from the yielded lumber back to the city’s tree fund which pays for new trees to be planted and the care of the millions already standing.
Bottom line: More exotic woods hit the local market at a lower price, city forestry budget increases, local economy profits from local materials, smaller carbon footprint for everyone involved, and the guy standing in his front lawn crying over his Maple tree laying in the driveway has a better option at a lower price. Is that win all around or what?
I wrote this blog entry to encourage you (the woodworker) to seek out urban sawyers in your city and gratefully give them your business because your work feeding their work will feed a system that benefits your entire community. Go you.
To view our urban wood collection, visit our website: WilferMobileSawmill.com
-- Scott Shaeffer, Owner - San Juan Carpentry