By Michelle Frost
Sustainable Northwest WOOD is the for-profit branch of the parent company, Sustainable Northwest. Established in 2008, they work to bring together people, ideas, and innovation so nature, local economies, and rural communities can all thrive.
WOOD supports the non-profit effort to grow the lumber business in rural communities and small mills in eastern and southern Oregon. The company is managed by Ryan Temple, President; Terry Campbell, Director of Business Development and Tamra Rooney, Director of Operations.
Only two weeks in their new space, on the corner of SE 14th & Clinton St., the bays are still being constructed for storage of their supply of juniper. The massive warehouse is already filling with the various kinds of lumber they sell, including, myrtle, walnut, Oregon white oak, madrone, and blue pine.
All the lumber sold there is FSC certified. The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, non-governmental, nonprofit organization established to promote responsible forest management worldwide.
The company’s mission is to provide local jobs by supporting local mills, loggers, manufacturers, as well as supporting local vendors to strike a balance between contractors and vendors.
Merriam-Webster defines Sustainable as ‘able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed: involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources; able to last.’
Sustainable Northwest WOOD works with anyone who uses lumber, including contractors and commercial projects as well as furniture designers, architects, and “home owners who walk-in to purchase a couple of boards for home projects”.
They stock flooring lumber for historic preservation of houses built in 1910-1930, in the standard measurement of 3-1/4” common to that era. Due to the abundance of historic buildings and preservation efforts in Portland, they keep a regular supply of flooring.
Tamra Rooney, Director of Operations, was born and raised in Oregon. She lived in New York while studying for a Master’s degree in Historic Preservation and returned home to be near family.
As historian, Rooney enjoys telling the entire story behind the wood, and the stories of those people she meets who are farming trees and operating small mills.
A young man about 30 years old, lives near Salem where he and his mother acquired land with a grant stipulating that the land be used only for growing trees. He is one of their suppliers of FSC oak.
The Build Local Alliance, (BLA) includes forest owners, millwrights, retailers, distributors, designers, architects, craftsmen, builders, developers, and homeowners interested in developing the local economy through sustainable forestry.
BLA partners with Sustainable Northwest to lead the development and promotion of local, responsibly-grown wood.
Sustainable Northwest WOOD receives requests for lumber from as far away as New York and Toronto, Canada, but Rooney reiterates their mission is to support the local economy and to work diligently supporting local businesses first.
No raw materials are shipped outside of the country and the business sells only local, restorative, FSC certified lumber harvested and milled in the Pacific Northwest.
Neil Kelly Construction is one local company, according to Rooney, actively choosing to work only with local contractors, and K Construction is already using WOOD’s juniper for making cabinet doors and decking.
The business is excited about their new location and the ever-growing business of FSC lumber. Rooney writes for their blog including articles such as How to Build Raised Beds, at www.sustainablenorthwest.org.
WOOD plans to offer workshops in the near future, and more plans are in the works for hosting a community open house this spring. Meanwhile, anyone is welcome to visit their showroom for a sampling of the best FSC lumber the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Woods Grown and Harvested in the Pacific Northwest
Juniper – An invasive species taking over grasslands and disturbing the ecosystem. Once managed by Native Americans who set wildfires to control juniper, there were 1 million acres about 100 years ago.
Today, that number has grown to 9 million acres of juniper. Juniper is harvested for decking, fence posts, and raised beds, because it far outlasts cedar and has a life expectancy of 50 years, in-ground contact with no chemicals. On sunny days, WOOD is already selling juniper to gardeners for raised bed projects.
Myrtle – Only grows in southern Oregon
Walnut – Brought from the east coast by early settlers who grafted walnut to local trees creating a hybrid, these walnut trees are now 150-200 years old and beginning to die.
Oregon White Oak – Salvaged from oak savannas (a lightly forested grassland where oaks are the dominant tree, maintained historically through wildfires, grazing, low precipitation and/or poor soil), Oregon /California is one of three major oak savanna areas; the other two being the Southwest US and Mexico, and the prairie/forest border of the Midwest. Early settlers cut 90% of the Oregon white oak. Suppliers are working today to restore the oak savanna in Oregon.
Madrone or Madrona Tree – A favorite hardwood trees of the PNW, it gets its name from the Spanish word madrono which means strawberry tree. Early Spanish explorers named it after the similarities to a Mediterranean variety.
In Canada, it is known as the Arbutus. The Madrone is a sacred Native American tree and the wood was never used for fire. Cut into planks of lumber, Madrone colors with age.
Blue Pine – The ceiling tiles and wall paneling in their new office, with blue streaks in the wood’s grain, the blue color is caused by beetles that infest the tree, emitting a chemical that causes the blue stain. A red stain indicates the tree has survived a forest fire.
Sustainable Northwest WOOD, is located at 2701 SE 14th St. /503.239.9663