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Group works to repurpose urban wood

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin organization is working to connect woodworkers and builders with diseased trees that typically end up in landfills after being cut down.

Wisconsin Urban Wood repurposes urban trees that have been taken down because of disease or to make room for new development projects, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Trees that aren’t harvested at a farm are considered to be urban.

When trees are being taken down in urban settings, local officials’ main goal is often to keep residents safe. That often leads to trees being taken down quickly and then sent off to be chipped or disposed of in a landfill, said Dwayne Sperber, a founding partner of the organization.

“Safety of residents is our priority in all of this, but we’re (also) creating change,” Sperber said.

Urban Wood works to find ways for wood to be recycled into something useful, such as tables, chairs or buildings, he said. The organization doesn’t cut down trees for lumber, but instead finds new uses for those that have already been taken down.

Many trees had to be cut down in the early 2000s because of the emerald ash borers, an insect that’s deadly to trees, Sperber said. That’s when carpenters and builders first saw an opportunity to find uses for urban wood.

Milwaukee has become a model for the way it deals with trees, Sperber said. The city sends unwanted trees to a sawmill to be turned into lumber, which is then made into flooring, furniture or other wood products, he said.

Eau Claire is a member of Wisconsin Urban Wood. Many fallen trees in the city are used in parks or sent to wood shops in local high schools.

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