Buy Local… Wood? Blue-stain, Bark Beetle and Colorado
Here’s a story in the Denver Post Business section today, including the link with a video, on using blue-stained wood in home construction.
Colorado imports 95 percent of its lumber, which doesn’t make sense in a state with so many dead trees available to harvest, Cadman said.
New Town, which expects to build about 80 homes this year, will spend about $2,000 per home on the Colorado wood, which is comparable in cost to imported lumber.
Given the smaller size of Colorado’s lodgepole pines, the homebuilder will limit its use to vertical supports.
“We hope the example will encourage and facilitate others to use this wood,” said Bruce Ward, founder of recreation advocacy group Choose Outdoors in Pine.
Beetle-killed trees leave the state at risk of massive forest fires that pollute the air and water supply. Dead trees are falling in greater numbers on roads, tents and power lines, limiting recreational opportunities.
Ward is among those working to find economic uses for the dead trees, including converting them into pellets that can be burned.
The beetles infect wood with a fungus that leaves behind blue streaks, giving it some appeal for use in trim, decorative panels and furniture. Custom and log homes have been built with the material.
But New Town is trying to open up a much larger market — framing production homes. A key hurdle to clear will be convincing city buyers that “blue-stained pine” is safe to use and structurally sound.
“At first it was a little bit scary, and I thought, OK, something is going to happen with my place. Is it going to affect the structure or the strength of the wood?” said Nea Martinez, who has bought a townhome in Stapleton made with the wood.
Martinez said she did her homework and came away reassured.
“They’re turning something unfortunate into a positive,” she said.
Positives include creating jobs in rural Colorado and helping the state revive its lumber industry.