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Local arborist Bob Moore has a vision to turn local ash trees, which are dying from the Emerald Ash Borer infestation, into long-lasting furniture and wood products. Here Moore stands with a doomed ash tree on the Mills Lawn campus, one of 27 ashes on the property that will soon die.(Photo by Megan Bachman)

Doomed ashes find second life as furniture

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The coming decimation of the village’s ash tree population by an invasive Asian beetle — a kind of “Arborgeddon” for a tree that represents about one out of every 10 in our canopy — is a dismal story.

But the ash trees have a chance at redemption. Local arborist Bob Moore has a vision for the next life of the village’s doomed ashes: as tables, chairs, cabinets, and flooring adorning local houses, lumber for local building and wood for art projects. And with a group of local collaborators and a sawmilling workshop next week to kick of what Moore is calling the Heartwood Lumber Restoration Project, Moore is hoping the enthusiasm for reclaiming ash wood will spread just as fast as the Emerald Ash Borer has.

Native to Asia, the Emerald Ash Borer was unknown in this country until 2002, when it was discovered killing trees in southeast Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. Since 2003, the borer has begun making its way through Ohio’s ash popluation, putting some 3.8 billion ash trees at risk, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It was first discovered in Yellow Springs this spring.Within a few years, every local untreated green and white ash tree in the path of the voracious bug will succumb, leaving dead trees to rot in place and, at some point, crash to the ground.

Headlining the Heartwood Lumber Restoration Project, urban logger Dave Nelson will bring his portable sawmill to Antioch College for a workshop there on Friday, Dec. 7. Starting at 10 a.m. outside the Antioch College art building (accessible from Corry Street), Nelson, a custom miller and teacher of furniture-making at the University of Rio Grande in southeastern Ohio, will give a brief talk on how to harvest urban lumber and demonstrate ash wood-cutting. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information on the Heartwood Lumber Restoration Project, contact Moore at bobtheplantguy@gmail.com or 937-424-7467.

Read the full story in the Nov. 29 issue of the News.

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6 Responses to “Doomed ashes find second life as furniture”

  1. Bob Moore says:

    Please note that the Urban Sawer is Mark Nelson from Nelson Custom Sawing and not Dave Nelson.

  2. bmoore says:

    Fact Check Imidicloprid is a treatment option but not one that is rated for large ash trees. OSU extension document lists fine coverage of ash less than 15″ DBH but the efficacy is much lower than trunk injections of Ememectin benzoate. Please see the attached document link in which they say “Efficacy of imidacloprid soil injections for controlling EAB has been inconsistent; in some trials EAB control was excellent, while others yielded poor results .”
    Also, The connections of Imidicloprid and Colony Collapse Disorder in Honeybees are growing stronger with Merit under increased scrutiny.
    While it is a decent option for small trees it has real limitations on larger trees


    If you are treating small ash trees, and pay 75$ per tree, it would really not be as cost effective as simply replacing them with another tree.
    Large Ash trees that cannot be treated- example- on a School Grounds have no place but the chipper in our current set up.

  3. Laura Skidmore says:

    Imidicloprid has its own drawbacks that anyone considering it should understand and weigh carefully (as with all pesticides).

    It is highly toxic to bees, which can ingest a fatal dose through plant nectar. Recent studies have pointed to imidicloprid as the likely cause of colony collapse disorder. Ash trees are wind pollinated and may not directly poison bees; however, multiple studies have found that bees do indeed collect pollen from wind-pollinated trees in early spring.

    Regardless, any flowering plants around the trees (including clover or dandelions) will also be “treated” by the chemical that is being applied to the root zone and those will directly affect bees.

    Imidicloprid is reported to be highly mobile and susceptible to contamination by surface runoff or leaching through soil layers. It is also highly persistent in ground water (due to lack of light) and the risk of ground water contamination is greater where the water table is shallow and/or the soil is especially porous. Contamination obviously is more of a concern when the pesticide is overapplied or improperly applied (against package instructions), which highlights the absolute necessity of following package instructions exactly if a homeowner decides to use it.

  4. Dan Plecha says:

    Well, it’s certainly a step up from the Emerald Borers…but a long way from the Beatles.

  5. Les Groby says:

    Doomed Ashes would be a great name for a band.

  6. Jon Moss says:

    FACT CHECK…There are several choices protecting Ash trees from Emerald Ash Borer. A licensed pesticide applicator may charge “$200-$500″ every other year but that is not the only way. I have been protecting my 3 trees with the pesticide “imidicloprid” and is approved by the USDA for that purpose and available to the public. It is available at most nurseries and big box stores as Bayer’s Advanced Tree & Shrub Control. The cost to treat my 3 trees was around $75 ($25 each). The amount of material needed varies according to each tree’s diameter, mine averaged 15 inches. It is applied as a soil drench near the base of the tree in the late spring.

    It is worth pointing out that protecting the trees in this manner is far cheaper than cutting them down. Also, there are many researchers in the US and Canada working on a remedy there is a good chance that within a few years their efforts will bring an end to the plague and those trees that have been protected will no longer need special care.

    I dread to think of my yard without my trees. I could not afford to kick out $600 to !$1500 to take care of them but for $75, hell yes I’ll do that.

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