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Thousands of trees get cut down every year in Milwaukee. Here's how the wood gets re-purposed.

Posted at 10:09 AM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 19:26:24-04

MILWAUKEE — The City of Milwaukee cuts down 3,000-4,000 trees every year. But now, they are getting a new life.

Local forester Ian Brown said that almost all of the wood is getting re-purposed.

"That can be for any number of reasons; storm damage, auto impact, construction, and advanced decline," said Brown.

"It's no longer just being returned to the carbon cycle, but it's also returning economic opportunities to Southeast Wisconsin," according to Brown.

However this hasn't always been the protocol for cut down trees in Milwaukee county. Much of the waste was going into nearby landfills.

"Trees were being disposed of in landfills. It was a wood waste issue," Brown said.

Now, instead of paying to drop the trees at the landfill, the city is saving $100,000 a year by shipping them to a local business in Hartford. Jim Wesp, the owner of Kettle Moraine Hardwoods finds a use for every part of the tree.


"We're always looking to try and get the highest and best use out of whatever that material will produce," Wesp said.

Some of the tree gets turned into paper and firewood, while other portions of wood can be used for furniture.

"That's our favorite thing that's the thing where we can actually look at it and say ok we're going to be able to get a return," said Wesp.

But when a tree comes down, another goes up in Milwaukee.

"It's very common for us when we remove a tree to stump grind and then replant in exactly that same spot," said Brown.

Some of the re-purposed wood can be seen locally at the Milwaukee East Library, Clock Shadow Creamery, Fiserv Forum and the childcare center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

"It' is all part of that story that we talk about with urban wood of coming full circle," said Brown.

For information about adding some urban wood to your home or business, click here.