During the hot days of summer, the shade of an urban tree can help us feel so much cooler. Protected from the direct rays of the sun, temperatures under a shade tree are reduced by many degrees. One group found a difference of 5-15 degrees less over lawn areas and 35 degrees less than an unshaded parking lot. The ‘experiment’ took place at a County Fair. What a great way to get the community involved in the benefits of urban trees.

What are you sitting on, as you relax in the shade? It might be the ground, a hammock, or it could be a chair. The Cities of Puyallup and Olympia will soon have wooden benches crafted from urban wood for residents to sit upon.

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Bench milled and built by Cedar Creek Correctional facility for the City of Puyallup. Photo by DNR

The benches are made from urban wood processed at Cedar Creek Corrections Center by DNR Camp Crews. DNR Camp Crews support fire suppression activities as fire fighters or work as kitchen crews to feed hundreds of hungry firefighters on site. When not working in suppression activities, inmates can be involved in other activities including urban wood processing, forestry, and restoration work. Wood donated from cities is milled, dried and crafted into a variety of items, some of which are returned to donors. The rest is donated to non-profit organizations.

CedarCreek Bench
Bench milled and built by Cedar Creek Correctional facility for the City of Olympia. Photo by DNR

Urban forests are dynamic. At the end of a safe, useful life, trees can continue to provide benefits through the beauty and utility of their wood. Cities not only benefit from the by-products, but in doing so avoid adding to the waste stream and carbon into our atmosphere (in the form of smoke, if wood is used as fuel).

The pilot wood use project is a partnership between DNR UCF, DNR Camp Crews, and community wood donors. It is made possible with funding from the US Forest Service. If your city is within about 50 miles of Olympia, you can donate trees to the program, and reap the benefits. Give us a call.


By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program