From Pesky Pariah to Pretty Product

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A dangerous tree-pest becomes a valuable natural resource.

The voracious Red Cedar is literally consuming Oklahoma. At the current rate of growth, nearly 30% of The Sooner State is expected to end up in the grips of this green invader. Eradication of this pest by way of traditional means is a very costly proposition. Costs run roughly $100 per acre using bulldozers; $40 per acre with hydraulic saws and a little more than half that sum with handheld tools, not counting, of course, the hefty investment in labor. Clearly, a practical alternative to conventional disposal must be found.

Invasion Upsides
This tree infestation is not a problem endemic to Oklahoma but Planet Earth itself. Experts contend however, that the resolution of this issue need not entail the expenditure of punitive amounts of monetary and/or labor capital. A more sensible and certainly more lucrative approach has been the conversion of this destructive species from pest to commodity. Much can be made from the humble cedar tree; from shavings for animal bedding and landscape mulch to lumber industry particleboard, and tinder to generate electricity. Log furniture can also be created using this all too abundant natural resource, an option representing one of the very few upsides of the red cedar incursion.

AspenLog is one of a growing number of companies to take advantage of the abundance of so-called pariah woods, and the dividends earnable via their use. Word of these benefits is hitting the street through the work of The Aromatic Cedar Association (http://www.acedar.org), a non-profit based in Oklahoma City dedicated to the promotion of aromatic red cedar as a viable industrial commodity.

"Log furniture is primarily constructed of natural harvested un-milled wood," explains Barry Eckhardt, Co-Founder, AspenLog (http://www.aspenlog.com), a log furniture company in Pine, Colo. "Its biggest selling point is authenticity. You get features imposed by nature; bug runs, elk rubs, scarring and other glorious imperfections, and the payback is a handsome, rustic look for which woods such as red and white cedar, aspen and hickory are particularly amenable. Most people in my business shy away from red cedar and materials considered 'pariah woods' by the industry but transformed into fine, rustic furniture, they create incredible ambience."

"This tree has many potential uses, and the list includes not only things like rustic furniture, mulch and wood pellets," says Director, Don Queal. "There's also talk of using red cedar to make ethanol. In some avenues we're approaching mature marketing, in others such as biomass for energy we've got quite a long way to go. The point is we've been moving steadily in the right direction, especially over the course of past three years. We want people to think of red cedar not as junk wood but as a commodity." And in the case of fine, rustic furniture, an object of solid handcrafted beauty.

For more information, contact Aspen Log, Inc., PO Box 459, Pine, CO 80470; Phone 303-838-7464; Fax 303-496-0203; Visit the web site http://www.aspenlog.com

Barry Eckhardt
Aspen Log, Inc.
Phone 303-838-7464
Fax 303-496-0203
http://www.aspenlog.com

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