United States
Department of

Forest Service

Northeastern Area
State and Private Forestry


October 2001

Forest Service Shield.

USDA Forest Service
Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry
1992 Folwell Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
E-mail address: sbratkovich@fs.fed.us

City Skyline - Minneapolis Park and Recreation Borad. Jewelry Box - George Hessenthaler.
Carousel Horse - Theresa Cox. Wildlife Viewing Platform - Brad Loveless.



  • Promoting Municipal Tree Utilization
  • New Jersey Forestry Services
  • Seeing the Big Picture of Urban Forest Management
  • Urban and Community Forestry Program, State of California
  • Connecting Tree Owners With Woodworkers
  • Harvesting Urban Timber Program, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Raising Revenue From Fallen Trees
  • Wausau, Wisconsin
  • Borrowing a Portable Mill Yields Multiple Benefits
  • Lompoc, California
  • Utilizing Wood for Its Highest Use
  • Bismarck, North Dakota
  • Borrowing a Wood Yard for Storage and Sales
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
Tree Service Firms
  • Supplying Free Wood for Artisans
  • Able Tree Service, Missoula, Montana
  • Giving New Life to Old Utility Poles
  • Trees-n-More, Berryton, Kansas
  • Networking to Utilize All Wood Residue
  • West Coast Arborists, Inc., Anaheim, California
  • Part-Time Recycler Provides Benefits to Consumers
  • 2nd Chance Woods, Berryton, Kansas
  • Selling Handcrafted Products From Salvaged Logs
  • Urban Forest Woodworks, Logan, Utah
  • Recycling Woody Materials From a Landfill
  • Slater Industries Demolition Landfill, Lewisville, North Carolina
  • Ready Buyers Ease Recovery From Tragedy
  • California Hardwood Producers, Inc., Auburn, California
  • Purchasing Municipal Logs: A Win-Win Situation
  • Minnesota Valley Forest Products, Inc., Courtland, Minnesota
  • Obtaining Start-Up Capital Through Grants
  • Pacific Coast Lumber, San Luis Obispo, California
Concluding Thoughts and Other Resources


In the United States over 200 million cubic yards of urban tree and landscape residue are generated every year.1 Of this amount, 15 percent is classified as “unchipped logs.” To put this figure in perspective, consider that if these logs were sawn into boards, they theoretically would produce 3.8 billion board feet of lumber,2 or nearly 30 percent of the hardwood lumber produced annually in the United States.

The staggering number of tree removals in cities and towns across the country becomes necessary for a host of reasons. Storm blowdowns, natural mortality, severe insect and disease damage, construction activities, and many other circumstances can change an urban tree from an asset into a liability. Municipalities are faced not only with the volume of tree removals but with the associated financial costs as well. Rising labor and transportation costs, increased landfill or tipping fees, and lost opportunity costs (money that cannot be spent elsewhere in the community) create a financial burden for managers of municipal tree programs. Even if disposal costs were not an issue, landfill space is dwindling, and tree disposal in landfills has been either outlawed or reduced by regulations in many States.

Meanwhile, the American appetite for wood continues to grow. Although net growth on commercial U.S. forestlands exceeds harvest by about one-third, our nation is still a net importer of forest products. The utilization (recycling) of municipal trees can contribute to the conservation of forestland resources by generating wood products from trees that need to be removed anyway. Examples include sawlogs for high quality furniture, cabinets, and flooring; pulpwood for paper products; fuelwood for residential and commercial heating; wood chips for mulch on landscaping projects, and specialty items such as burls and branch crotches for unique woodworking projects. Innovators who are utilizing street, yard, and park trees for traditional wood products have realized that it makes economic sense as well.

To show how municipal tree removals can be utilized for traditional wood products, this publication highlights 16 successful projects from around the country. These case studies are organized by the different types of participants: State and regional partnerships, municipalities, tree service firms, entrepreneurs, and sawmills. Contact information is provided for each case study.

Other resources on the topic of municipal tree utilization are listed at the end of this publication. A subject index is provided.

1Whittier, Jack; Rue, Denise; Haase, Scott. 1995. Urban tree residues: results of the first national inventory. Journal of Arboriculture 21(2): 57-62.
2Conversion assumptions (cubic feet of residue to board feet of lumber) for the 15 percent of “unchipped logs” include a 70/30 percent volume ratio of solid wood to air and a lumber recovery factor of 6.7. Also, the study error was estimated to be plus or minus 16 percent. Consequently, the lumber that theoretically could be produced from the “unchipped logs” ranges from 3.2 to 4.4 billion board feet.

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