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Fallen Ash trees get new life as furniture

CINCINNATI (Josh Knight) -- A tiny bug is taking a heavy toll on local trees.
An invasion by the Emerald Ash Borer means thousands of Ash trees have been cut down.  Those trees might go to waste, but a talented craftsman is finding ways to put them to use.

It has been nearly seven years since the Emerald Ash Borer was first spotted in Cincinnati and the trees have been coming down.

Resource manager, Dave Gammstetter, said, "Our first priority is safety along the roads, park roads, picnic areas."
Once the trees come down the question becomes, what to do with them and the cost incurred?  Dave Gamstetter is the Natural Resource Manager and explained how the larvae stage of the beetle kills the tree.

"The insect doesn't hurt the wood underneath it, that's the only good part of it, because it's costing a lot of money to do this," he said.

Until last year, the trees were processed and then sold to Cincinnati Public Schools for furnishings.  Liam Knecht was working for the company managing that contract.

"I just absolutely fell in love with the program," Knecht said.
Liam started wood working when he was 13 with his uncle, who was a carpenter. A year ago, Cincinnati Public Schools said they wouldn't need anymore wood.

"I saw that there was an opportunity to grow it and take it beyond just cps furniture and i jumped at the chance," Liam said.

Due to the Emerald Ash Borer, many of these trees have to come down. But, thanks to local businesses like Algin Furniture, you could end up with some of those trees from your local parks, in your house as your new table.  And in the near future, as your new hardwood floor.

"Ash is one of the most beautiful woods that I have ever worked with," Liam says and there has been such a high demand he can barely keep tables in stock.

Gamstetter says the city has been working on the flooring project to move and sell the bulk of the Ash.  He explained the big learning curve because the city isn't normally in the business of creating and selling a product.

"I think people are going to be really excited when they see how attractive the flooring is. It's really, really cool," Gamstetter said.
The flooring will help builders qualify for LEED certifications because it is "re-used" wood. And this really becomes a win-win thanks to the money made during the sale.
As the sale of flooring gets closer to launching, Liam also hopes to use more of the wood and expand his work shop to an entire floor.

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