Wood Utilization

When tree pests, such as emerald ash borer (EAB), arrive in Vermont there will be limitations (imposed through state and federal quarantines) on where and how wood can be moved. Firewood and green lumber can be used within a quarantine area but will need a compliance agreement if they are to be moved and sold outside of quarantine areas. Read more about quarantines.

There will be an ever greater need for local markets to utilize ash wood infested with EAB. Beyond lumber and firewood, ash is used in a number of products including furniture, musical instruments, sports equipment, bowls, toys, tool handles, and boat building. By finding creative ways to develop value-added products from the wood generated from ash tree removals, communities can often lessen the economic impact of the EAB damage while strengthening local wood product industries.

Developing a plan for utilizing EAB-related tree removals is recommended. Here are some strategies for a community to consider based on lessons learned from other states:

  • Determine specific needs within your town for wood products, such as mulch, lumber, or other products.
  • Develop a list of local wood processors. Plan for wood to be utilized at its highest value. 

Firewood

Product Specifications: Some residential wood stoves cannot fit pieces that are >16" long.

Market Directories: Contact Paul Frederick for a list of heat-treated firewood dealers. Search in the Yellowpages, Craigslist, Manta, local newspapers or ask around to create a directory of local firewood dealers.

Woodchips/mulch

Product Specifications:No particular specifications.

Market Directories: Greenworks Vermont, Vermont Nursery & Landscaping Association

Wood chips (energy)

Product Specifications: Burlington Electric Dept., Ryegate and other large biomass power plants take whole tree chips.

Middlebury College, Bennington College, and several Vermont public schools heat with bole or sawmill grade woodchips.

Market Directories: K-12 schools that heat with woodchips

Sawlogs

Product Specifications: The value of hardwood logs depends on a number of factors, including log length, diameter, knots, decay, seams or other defects.  Specifications depend on the mill.

Market Directories: Directory of Vermont Sawmills & Veneer Mills

Wood products/crafts

Product Specifications: Specifications depend on the product but local woodworkers and artisians create value-added wood products such as wooden bowls, toys, wooden handles, black ash baskets, etc.

Market Directories: Vermont Art Network, Vermont Hand Crafters, Inc., Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers, Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association, Vermont Wood Product & Manufacturers

  • Follow Best Management Practices for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Infested Wood in Vermont: Regulations and Recommendations for Transport, Storage, Utilization and Disposal  
  • Create collection or debris disposal yards. This is an effective way to collect infested wood from various groups, such as public and private landowners and homeowners, at one accessible location where it can be sorted, processed, and merchandised. These yards can play a regulatory role, enabling state and federal officials to contain affected material and inspect finished products efficiently before being shipped out of a quarantined area.  
  • Plan wood transportation needs in advance.  A loader truck is required to collect and transport material to a sawmill.  If there is enough wood and the site is large enough, consider acquiring or borrowing a portable sawmill.
  • Keep current on quarantines and mandates.  Maintain discussions with local forest product businesses as well as state and federal regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with federal and state quarantines and mandates.  Check for up-to-date information on state quarantines.
  • Partner with other communities and local businesses.  Partnering with a small sawmill or portable mill in your local area may allow a community to use reclaimed ash lumber for flooring in the town office, library, or schools. Small or portable mills can process and sell to local contractors, craftsman, hobbyists, and residents to gain higher value from removed trees. Several towns can join together and partner with recycling centers and solid waste districts to achieve the same results to capture a higher value and not send every piece through a chipper. By developing an Emergency Operations Plan, your town may already have Memorandums of Understanding/Mutual Aid Agreements with other municipalities as well as utilities for assistance or equipment use. Partnerships also allow your community to broker group or volume prices, prearrange contracts and seek grants. 
  • Local Wood, Local Good.  EAB has been a problem in Southeastern Michigan, an area more urban and suburban than Vermont, for several years. What they discovered is that residents were very interested in using and purchasing small amounts of lumber that has been processed from ash tree removals due to EAB.

Resources

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