City Trees Reclaimed

PARD foresters using a grapple claw to move a large tree trunk

On the first Friday of most months, members of the Urban Forestry team of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) can be found in a maintenance lot off Stratford Drive*. Mopac looms to the east. Ready with chainsaws and log lifters, they offer the public a unique free resource: Austin-grown wood. PARD oversees the management of over 288,000 trees on Austin parklands. Keeping those public spaces safe is the first priority for their Urban Forestry team, especially in a city known for our natural gems like Barton Springs, the Greenbelt, and Lady Bird Lake. 

Since trees provide so many benefits to the city, Foresters like Carl Wiggins make sure that removing a tree is the last resort. “When a tree is identified as a safety risk or is in the process of failure, we go check it out. We'll try to mitigate [remove damage to save the tree] or even redirect trails and pathways to protect the roots. Only after mitigation [if it can't be saved] will we cut it down.”

On this particular Friday, Foresters were helping a gentleman fill the back of his minivan with tree slices headed for Shalom Austin's preschool celebration of the Jewish Festival of Trees, Tu BiShevat. Forming a chain, Foresters and resident passed 18 slices of pecan across the lot, tossing each one in a scene that felt miles away from downtown.

One crafty resident had found arm-sized branches to drill and paint as candle holders and one very large slice of pecan destined to become a side table. (Editorial note: I can’t wait to see pictures. My own DIY nature crafting efforts are often more #fail than #fab.)

Already imagining what you might do with reclaimed wood? Members of the public are welcome to take home local and sustainable wood from Wood Reclamation with Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry Unit. For details about the next event visit the Parks Urban Forestry website.

And if you do snag some cedar, pick up a pecan, or win big with black walnut, share your creations with us on Instagram and Facebook using #atxreclaimed!

If you have questions about the reclamation program, contact Jesse Neumann.

*NOTE: Location has changed. You can pick up wood the first Friday of each month at John Trevino Jr. Metropolitan Park at Morrison Ranch. Off F.M. 969 in East Austin, this park is still under development. It is closed to the public for now except on wood reclamation days.

Article submitted by Jo Dwyer.