MDC hosted urban wood workshop in Kansas City

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – Saw logs, sawmills, sawdust and lumber were all part of demonstrations Dec. 12 on how wood from a metro area’s urban forest can be put to good use.  Wood from trees cut down in cities due to age, storms, disease, or landscaping changes need not be wasted, experts said at a workshop entitled Urban Wood – Reclaim Kansas City’s Fallen Trees.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) hosted the workshop at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City. Bridging the Gap’s Green Business Network organized the sessions in partnership with the Kansas Forest Service and MDC. Heartland Tree Alliance and the Center for Architecture and Design were also partners.

Architects, designers, contractors, and furniture makers are learning how to use lumber milled from reclaimed logs. Professional tree services and municipal forestry departments often remove large trees from homes, businesses or street landscaping. Many cities, for example, are facing a large die off of ash trees due to damage caused by the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect pest.

“Removed trees are not just for mulch or firewood,” said Russell Hinnah, MDC forestry field programs supervisor. “They have uses for a lot of other products.”

Some cities trade saw logs to lumber mills in exchange for credits toward the cost of tree removal services. A parks department might utilize milled lumber from a log from a park for special cut boards that fit a history project, a children’s play area, or natural furnishings such as benches. Architects and designers can utilize local woods in private and public projects. Homeowners that have to have a valued tree removed may want to have lumber from the tree for home woodworking projects.

Utilizing local wood adds economic value to a community, Hinnah said. Local forestry related industries benefit, and consumers get an economic source of high-grade lumber, lumber that small mills can often cut to fit specific needs.

MDC and the Kansas Forest Service both demonstrated mobile sawmills at the workshop. Representatives from private milling companies that reclaim urban wood talked about how trees can be transformed from logs to lumber, and how reclaimed wood can be used for consumer products. City foresters and representatives of private conservation groups discussed successful wood reclamation projects.

For information about reclaimed urban wood in the Kansas City area, call Bridging the Gap’s Green Business Network, 816-561-1087.

For information about MDC’s forestry programs, visit