The Story of Urban Wood

In our cities every day across Colorado, we are surrounded by trees. These trees offer us many benefits including improvement of our air and water resources, protecting us from urban heat island effects, providing habitat for wildlife, and boosting our quality of life in the city. City life is a hard life for a tree. What happens to them when they die?

More often than not, these trees, and the significant amount of wood resource they contain, end up in the landfill. In a study done in 2004, it was estimated that 170 thousand tons of wood waste from municipalities are brought to the landfill along the front range in Colorado each year. While many of our city trees are brought to the landfill, some may be ground up for mulch, and fewer will be utilized for wood products such as lumber, furniture, or art pieces.

When you utilize your urban wood resources, you offer that beautiful tree a second chance and you help keep this useful resource from our landfills.

Products Made From Urban Wood


Many communities in Colorado and across the country are reevaluating the strategies they use to process and dispose of their urban trees. Community members and leaders are no longer accepting of these trees ending up in our landfills, but instead developing strategic plans to give these trees a second life. Utilizing the wood, developing useful products, keeps members of our community working and happy.

The first step for your community may be to develop a community-wide strategic plan for your urban wood utilization. The Colorado State Forest Service may be able to help! Feel free to contact CoWood with your questions regarding urban wood utilization.

For more information about developing an urban wood utilization plan for your community, check out this excellent guide from Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council: Community Urban Wood Utilization Planning Worksheet.

Below are several resources for communities who are either just starting or reinvigorating conversations about urban tree utilization.

Utilize Urban Trees and Lower Your Energy Costs!

Woody biomass may be a viable option for your community

Many communities have been looking to woody biomass as a possible solution for utilizing a large portion of their urban tree waste while at the same time providing an economically appealing energy resource.

Have you considered woody biomass for your community energy needs?
Your Colorado Wood Energy Team is here to help guide you through the process of utilizing wood for energy!

Other helpful resources for communities

URBAN FORESTS & URBAN TREE USE OPPORTUNITIES ON LOCAL, STATE, NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SCALES – Dovetail Partners, 2014- Brief highlights of opportunities and success stories in urban wood utilization.

Prevention and Response Plans to Address Invasive Species Attacks on Urban Forests in Colorado – Colorado Department of Agriculture, 2013- General information about creating a management plan for invasive species, including guidelines for creating an urban wood utilization component.

Urban wood utilization programs from other communities

Illinois Wood Utilization Team

Wisconsin Urban Wood

Wood from the Hood, Minneapolis, MN

North Carolina Urban Forest Council Urban Wood Group

SE Michigan’s Reclaimed Wood Marketplace

City of Elkhart, IN Urban Wood Utilization Program

City of Davenport, IA Urban Wood Utilization Program

With trees coming down in our urban areas every day, there is ample opportunity for the local woodworking hobbyist or entrepreneur to take advantage of this very accessible resource.

By contacting your local urban and community forester or local tree company, you may be able to access wood resources at significantly lowers costs than you would going to any lumber supply store. Plus, you can feel good about using a local resource and keeping these beautiful trees out of the landfills.

For information on how to access wood resources from you local community, contact your local urban forester or tree company. Also, feel free to contact Tim Reader with CoWood for more assistance,

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was discovered in Boulder in 2013. This beetle attacks and kills ash trees. Today, many communities and homeowners are preparing for this insect by treating or removing their ash trees.

If your are interested in learning more information about EAB and what efforts you can be taking, please visit our EAB page.

EAB adult exposed by branch peeling