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New Life for Fallen Trees


Inspiration begins with a fallen tree and a mission for a more sustainable future. At least that’s true for Devin Ginther, founder and CEO of Texas Urban Sawmill. Devin and his team at Texas Urban Sawmill, a family-run small business, balance social, environmental and artistic responsibilities while furnishing some of Texas’ most visited public spaces.

By partnering with families, communities and commercial developers, Texas Urban Sawmill finds new uses for fallen and dead trees across the state that would otherwise be mulched, burned or discarded in a landfill.

“In my opinion, it’s one of the most sustainable forms of lumber anywhere in the world because it’s local, it’s rescued, and we’re not cutting down healthy trees,” he says.

This practice, which Devin calls full-circle forestry, results in lower carbon dioxide emissions and less waste. Moreover, it serves to reconnect us with our sense of place.

“When you know the wood and where it’s coming from,

you know the story behind it,” he says. “It gives us an opportunity to reuse trees so that people can still share a second life with them.”

Texas Urban Sawmill is working on several tree reuse projects with institutions such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Habitat for Humanity, Texas A&M Forest Service and Austin State Hospital to produce environmentally sustainable lumber products and architectural installations.

A current project at Inks Lake State Park, for example, is turning trees from the new headquarters construction site — mainly mesquites — into cabinets, doors, wall cladding and furniture for the building. The project, Devin says, focuses on “maximizing natural resources that were found at the park, keeping that carbon sequestered and turning it into these amazing, beautiful and, I would claim, historical products that all these other Texans can see and interact with.”

Another recent project involved taking a fallen tree at Mother Neff State Park and fashioning its wood into a Texas State Parks time capsule.

Devin believes each project is an opportunity to connect with the environment, divert more products from our waste streams and inspire Texans to think differently about our trees.     

 Rachel Caldwell | TPWD

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