Our Campground Blue Pine is a good wood to choose for your next green building project. Eco-conscious builders and designs everywhere will appreciate its story, which begins in forests across the West...
Starting in the mid-90's, a massive beetle epidemic has swept across the arid lands west of the Mississippi. To say that it is the largest insect infestation in American history is, in truth, an understatement of the changes occuring in America's forests. So far more than 150 million acres of pine forest, from southern Colorado deep into Canada and from the Dakotas to the Cascades, have fallen prey to the beetles, turning formerly green mountains into vast slopes of dead brown skeletons. And the beetles' range continues to expand each year.
As can be expected, the causes of this epidemic are complex. Warming temperatures have enabled the beetles to reproduce all year and also survive the formerly harsh winters that once kept their numbers down. The natural fire cycle that once cleaned beetles out of forests, thinned stands of trees, and enabled many tree species to reproduce, is now suppressed from the first spark. And hotter, drier summers have stressed trees, making them more vulnerable to attack and less able to fight off the intruders.
When the beetles bore their first holes in a tree, they introduce a fungus that they carry around in a specialized pouch in their heads. The two species work hand-in-hand, with one facilitating the other's success. As scientists have recently observed, the fungus eats the tree's natural antifungal resins, turning what should be a poison into a food source. As a final gesture of goodwill to its insect hosts, the fungus injects the tree with a chemical that basically turns off the tree's water main, preventing it from circulating water and sap through its system. This allows the beetles to make their final push into the now-defenseless tree.
It is this same fungus that lends the infested trees their beautiful blue stain. Today, blue pine is a representation of our changing world, a natural product that for many years was seen as defective but which today we appreciate because of its ample supply, its charming aesthetic properties, and its poignant story.
In fact, cutting the blue pine trees can be a positive and proactive approach to managing the forests. Strategically removing dead trees from high-use areas such as campgrounds and parks can help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and property damage -- provided it is done in an ecologically sensitive and responsible way (increasing evidence shows that even beetle-kill forests are full of wildlife, and forest floors bloom with wildflowers and insects following a good burn).
Plus the milling of these trees provides jobs in areas that have been economically suppressed for many years, restoring lumber jobs to towns that developed for them.
And, of course, each time a person chooses blue pine for their project over another wood alternative, they are choosing to preserve the vitality--and the carbon sequestration abilities--of a living tree.
Blue pine is ideal for interior applications including wall and ceiling paneling and furniture. While it is softer than some other types of wood, with the proper care it can also be used as a durable, cost-effective, and all-natural option for flooring. We especially like the work of several artists and woodworkers who have begun to use denim pine, including the modernist designs at I've Got Wood Furniture in Colorado (see photo at left) and the minimalist tables and chairs designed and built by students for Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics. We also love the sweeping back patio roof and walls at Rontoms in Portland, which JRA Green Building recently made out of our locally-sourced blue pine.
Sustainable Northwest Wood is proud to partner with small mills that are salvaging beetle-killed pine trees from public parks and campgrounds where the dead standing trees pose a risk to human users.
In addition to our in-stock paneling in both 6" and 8" faces, we also carry 4/4 lumber in widths up to 12" that is perfect for furniture, trim, and other creative applications, and 8/4 live-edge slabs in lengths up to 12' and widths up to 20".
Our friends at EcoPDX deserve some time in the spotlight for their hard work transforming locally harvested hardwoods into beautiful, heirloom-quality furniture. They're big fans of walnut and alder but have also mastered exceptional pieces in Oregon White Oak.
Top right: Modern meets classic with this boxy, broad walnut coffee table
Below: A walnut table and bench display gorgeous joinery and silken grain
Bottom: Oregon White Oak paired with steel tubes for a modern take on a media stand.
Portland has a growing community of folks who run their businesses by bicycle. We are very happy to work with Portland's Builder by Bike, Chris Sanderson, who loaded up about 300 lbs of cedar onto his trailer this afternoon.
Evidently, others approve of his methods, too: The drizzle abated and the sun peeked out of the clouds just as he left the warehouse!
Last Friday, Sustainable Northwest Wood hosted a tour of an area that has been affected by juniper's slow but steady encroachment on Oregon's native grasslands and several projects that have used juniper for a variety of interior and exterior applications.
After meeting at Disjecta Arts Center in Portland's Kenton neighborhood to view their recent installation of outdoor juniper benches, the tour group travelled to the town of Fossil, in Wheeler County, which sits at the northernmost reach of juniper's current range. At the first stop, juniper sawyer Kendall Derby demonstrated how a juniper mill works, slicing open a log for guests to see, and then showing the group his warehouse and a variety of products made with juniper lumber.
Guests then dined at the Timber Wolf Cafe in Fossil, which was recently redesigned to feature juniper interior finishes, including flooring, wall cladding, and a distinctive live-edge bar (photo at left).
After lunch, guests arrived at a viewpoint of the Cottonwood Creek watershed and the hills surrounding Fossil, where the encroaching juniper woodland can be seen spreading across thousands of acres of former grassland (photo below).
The last stop on the tour was the OSU Extension office that is nearing completion in Moro, OR, which among a number of notable sustainable finishes includes juniper siding across its entire exterior.
Among the highligts of the tour were a series of before-and-after photos of the Fossil area, which showed Fossil being surrounded by bare hills covered in native grasses when settlers first arrived to homestead in the area.
Today, of course, those once-grassy slopes are well-populated with juniper trees, which are coming to dominate the other plants, commandeering precious groundwater, loosening the soil for erosion, and making foraging harder for the many native animals who have evolved to depend on a robust grassland ecosystem.
The tour group consisted of architecture and design professionals from Portland, as well as members of Oregon BEST, landscape architects, students, contractors, county officials, and other interested parties. The tour was sponsored by Neil Kelly, Cascadia Green Building Council, and Sustainable Northwest.
We recently developled a breathtaking new product that pushes the boundaries of sustainable and truly triple bottom line materials.
Previously, the only FSC maple plywood and panels we were able to find were made from Eastern Maple, which is known for its clarity and pale blonde color. While Eastern Maple is beautiful, and very commonly used, we needed to provide an alternative that is made entirely from wood grown in our region.
Behold: Our new Big Leaf Maple architectural-grade panels are FSC, local, and Red List Ready -- perfect for LEED, Living Building Challenge, and other cutting-edge green projects!
We started with FSC certified Big Leaf Maple hardwood from a small, family owned and operated forest just south of Portland that mills their wood on-site. These beautiful book-matched slabs were then applied to PureBond plywood, which hails from Klamath Falls, OR, and is made using an advanced alternative to urea formaldehyde adhesives. The glue-ups were completed in Eugene, OR, and then brought to our warehouse in Portland.
This short supply chain and collaboration with businesses in our neighboring communities helps keep our investments in the Pacific Northwest, right where we want them, and ensures that our products are not only environmentally sustainable, but also socially responsible and economically beneficial along each step of the chain.
We now stock the panels in 1/4", 1/2", and 3/4" thicknesses, perfect for cabinetry, doors, furniture, and other applications.
Photo, top: The photo at the top righ shows the new maple panels with Osmo Polyx-Oil (background), which brings ou the red tones in the wood, and Vermont Natural Coatings (layer with logo), which softens the warm tones of the wood.
Photo, below: This robust Big Leaf Maple is growing in the small, family-owned FSC forest where the maple in our new architectural panels originates.
Sustainable Northwest Wood is honored to be the recipient of the 2012 BEST Award for Sustainable Products. This annual program is organized by Sustainability at Work.
At the awards ceremony last Wednesday, held at The Nines in Portland, our president Ryan Temple addressed the audience and expressed his gratitude to our loyal customers, the neighbors and freinds in our community who support us, and of course the network of foresters and small mills who work hard to provide our regional green building market with high-quality, sustainably harvested wood.
Here is a video that was put together for the ceremony that shares why Sustainable Northwest Wood was selected out of more than 150 applicants:
Now that it's officially springtime, it's time think about what you're going to do for your back yard and garden this year. If you're shopping for lumber for decking, fences, arbors, or raised garden beds, be sure to ask about our Western Red Cedar!
Sustainable Northwest Wood's Western Red Cedar is FSC Pure and is sourced from restorative forestry projects within 100 miles of Portland's city limits. It is cut as part of forest restoration projects that are designed to restore the health of the forest by opening the canopy and promoting diversity in tree species and age range.
Much of our cedar comes from the Nature Conservancy's Ellsworth Creek Preserve, from the Forest Grove watershed restoration program, and from the Homestead Girl Scout camp in Zigzag. We partner with small, family-owned mills to source the logs and cut and dry the lumber.
Cedar is an excellent choice for outdoor projects and offers many years of beauty and durability. Much like juniper, cedar is naturally high in aromatic oils that repel insects and slow decay, but offers a more refined look with a silky, strawberry-blonde grain. It is ideal for chemical-free raised garden beds and other uses where homeowners wish to avoid pressure-treated lumber.
- 2x4 surfaced decking
- 2x6 surfaced decking
- 4x4 rough, full dimension
- 1x6 rough fence board
- Custom sizes and profiles
Photos, from top left: A home in Southeast Portland boasts a cedar fence and living wall; the deck at the home in Beaver Creek is made of our cedar; a cedar nurse log hosts a young tree at an FSC forest 40 miles from Portland.
The Oregonian, Saturday, March 10, 2012
By Vern Nelson
Here's the link to the original article.
The best kitchen gardens employ structures -- trellises, espaliers and many other types -- to make the most of available space and to help the garden be as beautiful as it is productive. Posts for garden structures are available in many sizes and materials. Each wood used has advantages and disadvantages.
My favorite posts are made of juniper, which contains aromatic oils that make the wood resist rot. Juniper is beautiful, sustainably grown in eastern Oregon and locally available.
Juniper posts are available as 8-foot-long 4-by-4s and 8-foot-long 6-by-6s and are similar in price to cedar. Planks of various sizes are also available. Lengths of 10 feet or greater require a couple of weeks to get, and 2-by-6 planks are available if you want to put an overhead cap across your espalier or use them for trellises.
Because of juniper's density, you'll need to pre-drill holes for screws. Driving screws directly into juniper could overheat your drill motor.
ALTERNATIVES TO JUNIPER
* Cedar is rot-resistant but expensive. I prefer tight knot when using cedar, as it is less expensive than clear grain cedar and more stable than standard grade cedar. Sustainability is also an issue; be sure you're using Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood. Cedar is easy to drill for dowels, screws and wire.
* Redwood is similar to cedar, but it's difficult to find sustainably harvested redwood.
* Fir and pine are cheaper but rot.
* Steel pipe is durable but looks awful and is difficult to use.
* Plastic/wood fiber posts come in several colors. They are OK for edging raised beds but may bend if required to carry a load.
* Posts treated with copper naphthenate or other materials resist rot, but I prefer not to use them in my organic kitchen garden.
Posts such as 4-by-4s and 6-by-6s are less likely to twist, cup or bend than 2-by-4 lumber.
Posts of many types of wood can be found used at recycled building supply stores or at garage sales.
Use stainless steel screws to fasten juniper together. If you hide the screws with wood screw caps or mahogany dowels, use Gorilla glue to attach them. It is waterproof. If gluing juniper or another oily wood like cedar or redwood, wipe areas to be glued with acetone to dry out the oils.
Seal juniper and other oily woods with Penofin for Hardwood, Exterior Formula, which was formulated for harder, denser, oily wood. An alternative for those concerned about volatile organic compounds is Timber Pro's low-VOC Deck & Fence Formula, available in clear or 25 transparent colors. Use two coats.
As part of our mission to support Pacific Northwestern mills and the rural communities that depend on them, Sustainable Northwest Wood searched long and hard for a supplier of locally harvested, FSC certified plywood.
We now keep it in stock at our warehouse in Southeast Portland, where we carry AC and CDX grades in a variety of thicknesses, as well as maple hardwood panels.
The plywood we offer is harvested from FSC forests in Northern California and milled in Oregon's Umpqua Valley. In addition to being FSC certified and locally grown, our plywood is also NAUF, or no added urea formaldehyde, which means it won't off-gas carcinogenic fumes into your new construction.
According to the EPA, "In homes, the most significant sources of formaldehyde are likely to be pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins." Why does urea formaldehyde matter? In addition to being a suspected cancer-causing agent, formaldehyde has been implicated in increasing rates of asthma and other respiratory problems.
NAUF plywood helps LEED-registered projects achieve additional points for Indoor Air Quality and is acceptible for use with the Living Building Challenge. Our NAUF plywood also complies with California's CARB regulations.
The Desert Rain home, a Living Building Challenge project that is under construction in Bend, is forging new frontiers in sustainable design. In addition to being net-zero energy, the home will collect and process all of its water needs. An ADU is being constructed on the property, next to the main house, which is also being built to meet the criteria of the Living Building Challenge.
Sustainable Northwest Wood is proud to be the provider of the FSC lumber for this project, in partnership with Parr Lumber Company. A site visit today showed the FSC certified Doug fir framing in full glory, as well as the sill plate, for which FSC Western Red Cedar was chosen.
Cedar isn't typically used for sill plate; contractors most often work with pressure-treated fir. In this project, though, cedar was chosen because it is naturally durable without the need for any added synthetic chemicals -- it will bear the weight of this home while naturally preventing the decay of its most sensitive structural components.
This FSC 100% Western Red Cedar was sourced from Zigzag, OR, where it was super-selectively harvested as part of a restorative forestry management program at the Homestead Girl Scout Camp.
The Desert Rain home was designed by Tozer Design and is being built by Timberline Construction.
Photos: Top, FSC 100% Cedar sill plate; bottom, the ADU's interior gets framed.