Mining old-growth timber from the Great Lakes? Are you kidding? Although at first blush it may sound decidedly un-treehugger, Timeless Timber conducts a fascinating and environmentally-sensitive enterprise. The eco-treepreneurs reclaim logs from the Great Lakes and create fine furniture, flooring and woodcrafts from the "mined" timber. During the 1800's when most of the old growth timber was ripped from the North Woods, less efficient shipping methods meant that a lot of the timber was lost overboard, or sank in the many wrecks that occurred on the notoriously rough waters of Gitchi Gummi. Far from being damaged by the years underwater, the logs are actually of increased quality due to the loss of resins that washed away over time. The density and overall quality of the wood is extremely high, and is derived from tree types (such as flamed red birch, hard maple, tidewater, beech, and white pine) that may no longer be available for logging.
Of course, in the ever-complex cycle of nature, one is likely to ask about the ecological consequences of removing what in affect have become "fixed" structures in the lake bottom environment. How does the extraction of the logs affect the benthic system and the plants, vertebrates and microorganisms that have grown accustomed to their new neighbors? Recognizing this challenge, Timeless Timbers developed an environmentally sound strategy for collecting the logs, and has even worked with the Forest Stewardship Council to achieve accreditation as an eco-sensitive wood product. [By Erin Oliver]