By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

Salad bowls, cowboy hats, coffee tables: A diverse future awaits the black locust and silver maple trees felled last week by two contractors in two Bend parks.

Mike Ross, owner of Natural Edge Furniture of Bend, admires the tight, consistent grain in black locust. He bought several that were cut down in Pioneer Park by Arbor 1 Tree Service on Feb. 25 and 26.

The freshly cut tree trunks lay outside his shop Monday on Northeast Norton Avenue, ready to be milled into slabs and stacked to dry.

A year or more will pass, he said, before the wood is ready to be worked into headboards, desks, coffee tables or something the imagination has yet to conjure.

“We’re going to end up with 3,000 board feet,” he said Monday. “It’s a long process. It’s going to be at least two years before we make anything of it.”

Ross and Brian Kennel, a commercial mill operator in Tumalo, purchased the 16 trees felled in Drake and Pioneer parks by two tree care companies: Arbor Tree Care and Arbor 1 Tree Service. The trees were near the end of their life spans, hastened, in the case of the black locusts, by insect infestation, according to the Bend Park & Recreation District. Ross said the bore holes created by the locust borer will become features in the work his shop produces from the wood.

Kennel hauled away the trees from Drake Park. The maples he plans to mill and probably turn into door and window casings and counter tops. The black locust may become a coffee table top.

Michelle Morrell, park district landscaping supervisor, did not have the final billing for the job as of Monday and could not say what it cost the district to fell the trees. The arbor companies sold the trees to Kennel and Ross.

Woodworking hobbyist Bill Burgess, of Bend, bought a small portion from Kennel for his own use. He said he went straight from his morning coffee to Drake Park after reading about the tree removal in his morning paper.

“As a wood turner, I’m always interested in obtaining a piece of wood,” he said. “And something from Drake Park has significance.”

He bought three pieces of silver maple for $50 and immediately tried to turn one into a piece of art, a cowboy hat, his signature piece. The wood must be pliable and worked while still moist, he said. But the wood cracked while the finished piece dried, he said. He was at work Tuesday on another hat.

The owner of Natural Edge Furniture said anything of value made of wood from either park will generate interest among local buyers. Even within his shop, he finds connections to the Pioneer Park trees he bought.

“Absolutely,” Ross said Monday. “One of our staff was married under one of those trees. I shot our first commercial under one of the black locust trees by the river.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,