Michigan State effort turns felled trees into furniture, art

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A program at Michigan State University is turning storm-damaged and other felled campus trees into tables, chairs, picture frames and works of art.

Dan Brown, a specialist in the Department of Forestry, said the East Lansing university loses around 300 trees a year because of old age, disease and other factors. Earlier this year, for example, a storm with high winds caused the school to lose 21 mature trees.

The program provides a sustainable alternative to turning trees into wood chips or putting debris in a landfill, Brown said. An on-campus sawmill is used and a kiln is used for drying the wood. He said students are involved in every part of the process.

"We've incorporated the sawmill into several courses to give the students hands-on experience and training," Brown said in a statement.

The program is called "MSU Shadows," a nod to the name of the school's alma mater. The Department of Forestry, the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden and Campus Arboretum, Landscape Services and several Michigan artists are involved. They hope to use it as a model for other communities.

Other items being made from the wood include decorative wall hangings and holiday ornaments. The items are sold at the Michigan State University Surplus Store, with proceeds going toward planting new trees on campus, student internships and developing academic programs in urban forestry.




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