Making the Best of a Bad Situation

by Sebastian Wren

Many hundreds of trees were lost during the wind-storm that swept through the Austin area on Memorial Day Weekend.  With winds reaching 70 miles per hour, some trees snapped like twigs, and others were uprooted. Many of these fallen trees were very old heritage trees — pecans and oaks — some of which were as old as our neighborhood.

No matter how you look at it, the loss of these trees is a tragedy.  A few weeks ago, our community was expressing outrage over the loss of one large pecan tree on 55th Street that a developer chopped down to make construction more convenient.  All of us were angry and saddened over the loss of such a majestic tree.

Nature gave us a little perspective a few weeks later, however, when the massive Memorial Day Weekend wind storm felled many, many more trees equally majestic. Sadly, in our haste to restore order and clean up the mess made by the storms, many of these grand trees are currently being chopped up and turned into mulch.

One of our neighbors wants to encourage us not to be so hasty.

For some time, our neighbor Daniel Baugh has been frustrated that, when large heritage trees in the city are removed, they almost always end up as mulch or land-fill.  Some of these trees are over 100 years old, and they can have trunks that are 90 inches around.  It is a shame to lose them at all, but if they must be lost, he thought that the lumber from these slow-growth trees could be salvaged and used in wood-working projects.

So he purchased a portable wood-mill.  The mill is essentially a giant band-saw on rails mounted on a trailer.  The whole rig can be hauled around to different locations, so when a large tree in Austin is lost, Daniel can be there to cut the tree trunk into boards.

Needless to say, Daniel has been quite busy lately in our neighborhood.  Within a few blocks, huge oak and pecan trees with massive trunks were uprooted.  Rather than carving them into little pieces and mulching them into land-fill, Daniel has been working with his neighbors to save the beautiful wood from these trees.

Daniel Baugh holding a slab of pecan that could one day be a fine piece of beautiful furniture.
Daniel Baugh holding a slab of pecan that could one day be a fine piece of beautiful furniture.

So if you have lost large trees — or if you lose large trees in the future — you might want to consider turning that tree into some beautiful hard-wood lumber.  The loss of the trees is a tragedy, and it will take a lifetime to replace them.  However, the high-quality wood from the lost trees could become heirloom furniture that will also last a lifetime.  It’s a small silver lining that may provide a small consolation.

So when the bough breaks, think of Daniel Baugh. You can contact him through his website at Urban Sawyers Treecycling.

Daniel and his best little helper taking a break from harvesting fine lumber from fallen trees.
Daniel and his best little helper taking a break from harvesting fine lumber from fallen Northfield trees.
Baugh2
Rather than going to waste, this pecan wood has the potential to become a fireplace mantle, a coffee table, or a beautiful headboard.

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