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Environment

Meet The Man Giving The Fulton Mall Trees A Second Life

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Jeffrey Hess/KVPR
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Tim Schulz mills a tree

Crews are currently hard at work cutting down many of the over 100 trees that line the Fulton Mall. They are being removed as part of the project to turn the mall back into a street. But some of the trees will find a new life.

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Workers cut down Fulton Mall trees.

Chainsaws reverberate down the concrete canyon of the Fulton Mall. Workers are cutting into the trunk of a 30 foot tall pine. They then push the smaller section of the tree to earth where it lands with a meaty thunk.

For many, the sound of the chainsaws is the sound of Fresno losing an irreplaceable part of its identity. But there is another saw that is giving some of the trees a second life.

Among piles of wood and lumber in a backyard outside Sanger you will find Tim Schulz and his sawmill.

Schulz runs a one-man woodworking business called Revive Industries. He has agreed to take some of the wood from the trees, run it through his mill, and save it so it can be used in new projects.

Late last week he picked up his first log and cut into it for the first time.

“Oh my goodness, yeah. That is gorgeous. Oh man, that is beautiful. God hid a lot of beauty in there and we just got to see it for the first time,” Schulz says.

The practice is called “urban lumber”. The idea is the trees that are around homes or other buildings have often built up sentimental value. And when it is time for them to go, people want a piece of “Grandpa’s tree” to keep with them.

“Now it is a coffee table in the living room. Or a bunch in the backyard. It can go into all sorts of things. Even the limbs we often use for craft supplies,” Schulz says.

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Credit Jeffrey Hess?kvpr
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Tim has been working with the city and the construction company to save some of the wood from the trees as they are cut down.

He went through and marked the trees that would be good urban lumber candidates.

“On the Fulton Mall alone, there are about 15 different species of trees. On just the Fulton Mall. So that is a pretty diverse urban forest if you will,” Schulz explains.

Tim thinks he can save as much as 100 tons of trees that he will then mill into boards.

"Because this is from Fulton Mall and this is part of Fresno's History and part of our culture," Tim Schulz, ReVive Industries

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the trees will be ground up for mulch.

Its sounds like a lot, but the tree he is working on milling now is about two feet in diameter and six feet long and it weighs 1,000 pounds.

The potential use for the lumber is limited only by the imagination.

“That could become some benches in a store front on the Fulton Mall. Or some wood turner may get small blanks out of this and turn bowls that end up in Peeves or Roots on display of his craftsmanship. And somebody ends up buying a set of wooden bowls that were turned from a tree on the Fulton Mall,” Schulz says.

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Tim is paying $30 a ton for the logs he takes to his mill. But he says the construction company has gone out of their way to separate the trees so he can haul them off more easily.

His plan now is to take as much wood as he can fit on his property and mill it into one or two inch thick boards. He does custom work as well, but thinks it is probably easier to mill lots of standardized boards residents can pick through and select. He says there has already been a lot of interest on social media which he hopes turn into sales.

“Who is honestly going to be interested beyond a thumbs up or a like on Facebook? We have had calls from people who do want lumber because this is from Fulton Mall and this is part of Fresno’s History and part of our culture,” Schulz explains.

Even though he knows he is taking a risk with the trees, Tim says he couldn’t bear the potential regret of letting them be cut down and lost forever.

“These trees being able to live on in a sense and carry on the story of the Fulton Mall and mark this specific point in Fresno’s history was a lot more appealing option to me than just turning them into mulch,” Schulz says.

It will be some time before any of the wood actually becomes a new table or bowl. It will take about two years to dry, unless it is put in a kiln which speeds the process to a few months.

In the meantime, Tim will be in his back yard hard at work milling the Fulton Mall trees into someone’s next prized possession.