Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beetle Mania

Beetle Kill Pine (Photo Credit: Gerry Tuchodi)


There's something you should know about me.  I'm a locabore (not to be confused with loco or boring).  Are you wondering why you've never heard this term before?  It's because I just made it up.  I do that a lot.

Perhaps you have heard of a locavore—a person dedicated to eating local foods whenever possible.  So what in the world is a locabore?  It’s a person who makes a commitment to using local beetle kill wood for a wide variety of construction projects.  The “loca” is for local and the “bore” is for the beetle activity that leads to a tree’s untimely death.  It’s a growing problem in my state (Colorado) and beyond.

I have been reading about green remodeling practices.  One of the important things we can do when building or remodeling is to use reclaimed wood.  When lumber is harvested nearby, the ecological impact is reduced significantly.  There is no need to transport the wood cross-country (which eliminates a much larger carbon footprint). 

Because dead trees are already dry and seasoned, there is no need to burn fossil fuels for the kilns that would normally be required to lower the moisture content of freshly cut living trees.  And, by using dead trees, we can lower the dependence on harvesting trees that are better left in the forest doing their best to keep our environment healthy.

This weekend, as I was purchasing supplies for a couple of ongoing home renovation projects, I found beetle kill pine boards on sale.  That made my choice very easy.  When I build with local woods, the advantages go well beyond financial and ecological gain.  Things that grow here look good in my home.  They are a natural fit.  You would expect to see native woods like aspen, pine, and fir inside a house that is surrounded by those kinds of forests.  There is a harmony that is both seen and felt.

Even if you live in an urban area, there are always sources of reclaimed timber and other architectural elements.  A source to consider is your local Habitat for Humanity Restore.  They stock recycled construction materials.  Always think “re” first as you aim for greener living and building (reclaimed, recycled, repurposed).

Let's learn how to be good to the place we call home.  We only get one chance at this.  Unless we want to be dead standing, it's "Do or Di" time.  


14 comments:

  1. You are so clever with words...love the "locabore". Excellent article that makes us all think about what we are doing when we use "new" vs. "re" products.

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    1. Thank you, Mary Beth, for appreciating my wordsmithing. How I love to craft words right along with my other DIY creations.

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  2. Just think, one day in the future we may see your "locabore" in the dictionary! I do like the idea of using local products for all the reasons you point out and for keeping local merchants in business within my own community.

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    1. That would be fun, Ruthi... having one of my words in the dictionary. Thanks for thinking that could happen. :-)

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  3. Good reminders to keep the "re" in front of my thought process and purchases. I also live in an area where non-native insects are causing some serious damage to our beautiful forests. Thinking local is the best way to keep this from spreading.

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    1. I'm sorry you are also experiencing the blight. It's horrible seeing the devastation. Bad enough that it is the pines. Now the aspens are starving to death from drought and insect related damage.

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  4. I am big on using reclaimed wood myself! It's the responsible thing to do and such wonderful creations come from it. My brother-in-law was able to strip an old Indiana barn a couple of years ago. We have been using that wood for tons of different projects since. It's a great idea that's green and easy, to boot!

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    1. Reclaimed barn wood is so gorgeous. I've been looking for a barn to salvage. Happy to hear you are applying these green practices.

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  5. Excellent advice. We are often aware how important it is to 'shop' locally and support our local tradesmen as a way of helping our own community and its merchants who are our neighbors, so it makes perfect 'Green' sense to 'use' REclaimed wood grown locally. One more area where we can be a responsible resident -- not only of our community, but of our whole planet.

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  6. Thanks, Elf. It's the responsible thing to do.

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  7. Fabulous! I couldn't help but wonder if the beetles leave any traces behind, like holes or beetle eggs? Is it necessary to treat the wood or varnish it in some way when you use it? I really do think this is a wonderful way to reclaim wood and to actually use it instead of adding to a landfill somewhere.

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    1. You ask all the right questions, Mouse. The wood I bought is ready for a finish (no traces of beetles except for the blue stain in the wood). The beetle activity, as you can see in the photo, leads to a blue/gray cast in the wood itself. That is the result of fungus activity associated with the beetles. Since I am making a sliding door for the half bath in my bedroom, I will use a low VOC finish (I don't want to breathe fumes when I'm sleeping). I want the wood to look somewhat like reclaimed barn wood since I have a closet door in that same room that is made of weathered barn wood. When I harvest my own dead standing trees, they do sometimes have beetle larva under the bark. I just remove those traces of insect activity.

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    2. I actually love the natural look of wood throughout my house. When I was a lot younger, I think I was just used to painted wood. When we moved into our current home, I wanted hardwood floors and unpainted cabinets. As I look around me, I wish the mantel had been left unpainted as well. I am intrigued by your industrious and earth friendly suggestions. I am learning a great deal from you and seriously getting rather excited about your projects. I am storing away information for future reference :) Thank you!

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  8. Clever and inspiring! A look that I really like is that of using reclaimed barn wood for interior projects. With awareness and encouragement to spark ideas, I think we can all find "local" projects. I'm a committed locavore and maybe I'll be a locabore, too as I believe we have blue wood in our area, too.

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