Urban Lumber Professionals joining forces to make a difference:
By; Jennifer Alger, CEO Far West Forest Products
After decades of working closely with Cal Fires Urban Forestry Department, Friends of the Urban Forest, CA Urban Forest Council, and the US Forest Service as well as several private businesses like ours, we finally put together a formal urban lumber network on the west coast. However, because we don’t want to see any of our valuable trees go to waste including our drought killed pine and other forest trees, we decided to name our network; Urban, Salvaged, and Reclaimed Woods Inc. this way we are encompassing all of the natural wood resources that typically go to waste and not just the ones from an urban setting.
Our network began formally taking members in Dec of 2017 and launched our first event on March 6th 2018 by showing the urban lumber documentary FELLED at the Tower Theatre in Sacramento California partnering with Urban Lumber Network member Sacramento Tree Foundation to make it a success. This was a great way to bring our community and Urban Wood professionals together and provide education on what Urban and Salvaged woods are as well as how accessible they are in hopes to change the common perception that wood use comes with a feeling of guilt. For instance someone may say, “wow I really want that beautiful live edge wood table, but I don’t want a tree to have to die for my benefit” . This was when we decided to start using the hashtag on a regular basis #guiltfreewoods, but our woods are “guiltfree” in that they were not harvested for their timber value and it is actually an environmental benefit to use them as they would otherwise emit carbon into the atmosphere if they were left to decompose.
Since opening up for membership about 7 months ago, we now have members in: California, Montana, Oregon, British Columbia, Hawaii, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Our goal is to spotlight each of these businesses who are members and bring awareness to them in their local communities in part of a “buy local” campaign. We’ve started this by purchasing ad space in the Woodworker West Magazine, but plan to take it further in the months to come.
In June of 2018 we hosted an Urban Lumber Summit where we had 3 experts from 3 different kiln companies including RF, Vacuum, and Dehumidification technologies come and speak about the nuts and bolts of wood including drying wide thick slabs. Sam Sherrill came and spoke on the environmental benefits of using urban wood, and broke the carbon sequestration down into layman’s terms. We had live demo’s of Wood-Mizer sawmills, and Granberg International mills, a marketing course geared towards urban lumber and sawmill companies, and several presentations from various sized urban lumber companies on how their businesses have progressed and grown with great tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way. And last but not least we enjoyed some great networking among industry professionals and met a lot of new friends and business partners from as far North as British Columbia and as far East as Main who were very excited to join the urban lumber movement.
We’re currently hosting a very large booth at the California State Fair in the Forestry Center which my Company Far West Forest along with fellow urban lumber network member West Coast Arborists has been doing for years to bring awareness to the urban and salvaged woods industry. This year Urban, Salvaged, and Reclaimed Woods Inc. has joined in and we’ve opened it up for fellow members of the network to be able to display their business for a portion of the fair showing from Forest to final form.
In this partnership, network member West Coast Arborists provides local trees salvaged from Sacramento’s urban forest, and my company Far West Forest Products; Wood-Mizer California provides a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill courtesy of one of our sponsors Wood-Mizer LLC, along with a sawyer to demonstrate to the public visitors exactly how logs are made into lumber. We have various wood slabs provided from Far West and other members of the network, and finished wood furniture, cutting boards, and serving trays made from network members TruWood builders, American Talon Woodworking, and Knottheads custom Sawing and Fabworx . There are several carvings onsite as well by John Mahoney of WCA inc. showing various things that can be done with urban woods. We have designed a very large banner that is on display that shows the lifecycle of an urban tree along with take home tri-folds explaining what to do when a tree needs to be removed from an urban setting that finishes with re-planting the right tree in the right place. Our goal is to educate everyone who visits the Forest Center on two things. The first thing is that when a tree needs removed from an urban setting, to select a tree service is willing to ensure that the wood is cut in a way to be best utilized for lumber and will also work with a local sawyer to have it milled and dried. A great way of doing this is to select a tree service company and a sawyer from the network at www.urbansalvagedwoods.com The next thing we are trying to communicate at the State Fair is that when you need to select wood for your next DIY or woodworking project, try to locate woods that urban, salvaged, and reclaimed, and these can also be found by visiting the website. Fair visitors can also find an array of items that woodworkers have already made and have for sale such as pens, bowls, cutting boards, furniture, art pieces, and more. But in light of the beetle kill pine epidemic here in Ca, we also are trying to take it one step further and have them think outside the box and see what non-wood products they use now that could be made from wood to ensure that we are doing all that we can to utilize this natural resource as well and we’re showing them how beneficial it is for the environment to sequester the carbon that is found in these trees.
We’re excited to see where the rest of the year takes us and are committed to seeing that Urban lumber, Salvaged Lumber, and Reclaimed Lumber become household names and go-to products for every consumer.