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MSU Finds New Life For Damaged Trees

Jerry Wahl
The benches are portable, unlike most of the benches on campus which are bolted down with a concrete base.

The Michigan State University Shadows program specialized in reusing wood from trees cut down on campus.

But when Dan Brown, the person running the program, left the university, there was a void.

However, before Brown left, he showed members of the arborist crew how to operate the mill to repurpose materials from trees.

Now, that team is turning damaged or sick trees into benches.

Landscape services assess those trees to decide if they could be hazards or if they won’t survive.

If approved, they remove the trees and save anything that can be used.

Jerry Wahl is a campus arborist. He said he makes sure the tree is not one that could survive before it’s repurposed.

“It's trees that came down because of storm damage or they were sick. I mean we’re not taking trees down to make stuff with them," he said.

"It’s coincidental that they had to come down, but we just save anything that’s decent."

Wahl said landscape services used to turn those trees into mulch.

“Even though we mulched it up and reused it on campus, if we could use it for a better purpose, you know, something more permanent, like you know, making these benches, I mean it’s just a good way that we could give back to the university.”

Because of MSU’s landscape services tree replacement rule, any tree cut down on campus is replaced by a new tree, though sometimes not in the same spot.

Wahl’s team installed two benches behind Erickson Hall and is in the process of making more.

McKoy's story is brought to you as part of a partnership between WKAR and Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

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