DCR's sawmill on wheels keeps lumber local in state forests
CHARLEMONT -- It seems simple: If someone needs lumber, get it from local trees.
But the forestry industry in Massachusetts has been in decline for some time, in part because people buy lumber that is produced elsewhere.
On Monday, Sean Mahoney, the Department of Conservation and Recreation's outreach service forester, brought DCR's portable sawmill to the Mohawk Trail State Forest, the state park in Charlemont, to help keep lumber local.
"I'm the ‘buy local wood guy,'" Mahoney said. "We're working hard to get people to buy locally grown -- whether it's wood, vegetables or seafood."
At the park, some old pine trees that posed safety hazards to visitors were recently taken down. Mahoney and his traveling band saw came by to cut them into lumber for use in several state park improvements, keeping the wood in the forest in which it grew.
Mahoney said the trees that were taken down were in public areas of the park and had the potential of falling, posing a danger to visitors.
Once the trees are processed, the wood will be fashioned to replace deteriorating wood elements of park improvements, such as picnic pavilions and camping shelters, and any other lumber needs there might be.
He also provides marketing assistance to connect lumber producers with local woodsmiths like furniture makers or producers of flooring.
Mahoney said using the portable sawmill -- it has wheels and can be hauled behind a pick-up truck -- helps people understand the process.
"We use it to produce lumber and take it out in public to show folks the wood that actually comes out of the local forest," Mahoney said. "We're trying to carry on the legacy of good forest management."
Aside from keeping raw materials involved in the state's economy, it also makes sense for the air: Local lumber doesn't have to be trucked in from other regions, saving fuel and reducing climate-warming pollutants, he added.
"The trees are here," Mahoney noted. "They don't have to be trucked to a mill. We can bring the mill to them. It's better than sending the logs to Canada."
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