Ash trees may fall, but a second life awaits in Lincoln

The emerald ash borer may be the scourge of many an arborist, but the trees chopped because of them may have further use.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – It’s hard enough for many people to see their entire street cleared of ash trees, and when that wood is just trashed, that only adds insult to injury.

Trees will be chopped down to avoid further emerald ash borer infestations. That’s just how it is. What happens to the tree after, though, is changing for the better.

“The best use of a tree is when it’s alive when it’s standing,” says Nebraska Forest Service forest products specialist Heather Kingery. “Once it has to be removed because of emerald ash borer, or storm damage, or whatever happens to the tree, we want to see it being used for its next highest purpose.”

Sometimes that purpose is nothing more than mulch or firewood, but the tree could possibly be elevated to art. No matter what, it’s better than one common practice: sending the tree to the landfill.

“We had an ash wood showcase where we had artisans and builders make really cool products out of ash wood to show how beautiful it can be,” recalls Kingery.

The wood also makes it way to schools and community foundations for the same purpose.

Allie Christianson, a community organizer with Collective Impact Lincoln, explains, “A lot of this has started out by listening to folks in the schools and our community learning centers and starting with our students who are building the items and connecting them with neighbors close to them.”

You can already see some of their creations out and about in Lincoln.

“Two side tables and a coffee table made with pin oak and ash, they are at Juju’s Vegan,” said Christianson. “And there’s a gorgeous Goerge Nelson bench at Pepe’s Bistro.”

You can expect more and more to show up because people on the forestry side and the community side want to continue growing the program.

In fact, last year the Nebraska Forest Service was able to form the Nebraska chapter of the Urban Wood Network, connecting the state with other groups around the nation dedicated to the idea of using ash and other wood that’s been cut down in urban settings.

To learn more about the emerald ash borer and how the Nebraska Forest Service responds to this bug, check out their resource page here. You can also learn about their various projects and programs at the same site.

To see what Collective Impact Lincoln is up to, see their page on the Civic Nebraska website.

Categories: Lancaster, Nebraska News, News, Top Stories