Monday, May 18, 2009

Urban Woodsman

Chris Holmgren, Seneca Creek Joinery
Photo: David Sharpe

Nothing is wasted. If a log has heart-rot or termites, Chris Holmgren dries it out and makes it into a bowl.

Holmgren is one of our eco-heroes right here in Montgomery County, Maryland. He was recently featured in the Washington Post. Once, as a contractor, he learned from the U.S. Forest Service that over 3.8 million board feet of timber are tossed or destroyed each year. He decided that was too much waste. Burned out on the remodeling business, he started the Seneca Creek Joinery and never looked back. He now collects every manner of salvaged tree or log. From them, he makes elegant Windsor Chairs, floor boards, tables and custom milled pieces.

Through his Wood Recovery Project he partners with local communities and tree companies to gather the wood that would normally be lost. Holmgren wants no tree to be wasted.

I envision six or eight processing centers like mine around the Beltway. Two hundred million board feet of lumber goes to waste each year inside the Beltway alone. What makes up that figure? Tree trimming, hazard trees and diseased trees. And there's always somebody saying, "Well, we don't like to take a tree down, but that one's so messy."

We lose 10 to 15 acres of woodland a day in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to land-clearing for development and growing corn for ethanol. That's not an economic disaster, but it's going to be an ecological disaster.

Holmgren makes the argument for thinking, buying and planning locally understandable and urgent.

Hit Tip to Paul Bowman

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