Far West participates in Urban Wood Conference at Palomar College

Urban Lumber Conference

We all know trees provide shade, shelter for animals, and filter pollutants from the air. But what is the best use for landscape trees after they are cut down?

Speakers William Stranger, Stranger Furniture; Peter Tittmann, academic coordinator UC Berkeley Center for Forestry; Jennifer Alger, Far West Forest Products and Wood-Mizer; and Jeff Reimer, technician Cal Poly State SLO seen at the “Urban Woods” conference held at Palomar College. April 3rd, 2015

The California Urban Forests Council held its “Urban Woods” conference at Palomar College in San Marcos over the weekend, to discuss the second life urban trees can have as lumber.

Palomar College cabinet and furniture technology department professor Jack Stone explained how urban forestry extends the usefulness of trees.

“If we plant the right trees, and we plant them in the right places, we can use those trees as trees as we’re used to,” Stone said. “But then when they reach the end of their useful life we can harvest them, mill the lumber into useable lumber, and then use it as product.”

The college has been practicing the final steps of urban forestry for over 15 years. It mills urban trees on campus, and students use the lumber in their woodworking projects.

Palomar College sawyer Brad Ritchey mills lumber. April 3rd 2015

Stone said most of the trees that are milled at the college are donated by the city of San Diego.

“When a tree is cut down from a city street or park they let us know about what kind of tree it is, how big it is, and even things like where the branches are,” Stone said. “And if we feel that is a species we can use, and a size, and has viability as lumber, they will bring that tree to us and not cut it up into small little pieces for firewood, or take it to the landfill, or chip it.”

Stone added urban forestry is economical, keeps trees out of landfills, prevents the production of greenhouse gases, and produces beautiful lumber.

Specialists on trees, milling, and woodworking spoke throughout the three-day conference, including keynote speaker Ron Daniels, of the “Redwood Kings” television series.

The conference included tours of Palomar College’s lumber mill, tooled woodworking machinery, and displays of furniture and instruments made from urban woods.

Promise Yee is a North County freelance writer. Contact her at promise.yee1@gmail.com. Twitter: @promisenews. Facebook: promise.yee.1.