Case Study

Urban Wood Reuse

Sacramento, CA: Sequestering Carbon Through Urban Lumber Salvage


Credit: Sacramento Tree Foundation

The State of California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund has taken some innovative steps in greenhouse gas mitigation measures.

Sacramento, CA

45.0% White, 14.6% African American, 17.8% Asian, 4.2% Chinese, 3.3% Hmong, 2.8% Filipino, 1.6% Indian, 1.4% Vietnamese, 1.2% Laotian, 1.2% Japanese, 1.1% Native American, 12.3% other races, 7.1% from two or more races.
Hispanic or Latino of any race are 26.9%.

In 2015, the Sacramento Tree Foundation received a grant through the CAL FIRE Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) to establish The Urban Wood Rescue program. It diverts logs headed for the landfill from the urban waste stream, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequestering carbon for longer periods of time. When wood is chipped, burned, or left to decompose, it returns carbon back to the environment. When logs are processed into wood products, the carbon in them stays bound up in the wood for the life of the object.

The Urban Wood Rescue program partners with the City of Sacramento and private landowners to salvage logs from trees that need to be removed – the salvage stream includes public and private trees. Logs must be delivered to the sort yard and must meet certain quality criteria to ensure they qualify for milling and drying. The Tree Foundation does not pay for the logs, but does offer a tax deduction based on estimated value of the raw log(s).

These logs are then milled into lumber for use in community projects like benches, fences, and playground equipment. The resulting lumber is also available for sale to artists and craftsmen for furniture and artwork, creating a cooperative network of makers producing unique wooden products with a source zip code.

The Urban Wood Rescue program offers custom milling services on a per log basis. It does not offer kiln drying services or log pick up services.

This GHG mitigation effort supports an urban wood sorting and processing operation for logs generated from tree removals on public and private property. In addition to avoiding GHG emissions by planting trees for shade, Sacramento also sequesters carbon by diverting urban logs from waste streams.

The Carbon CycleThe Forest Foundation


CAL FIRE (the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) has received funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) for forestry projects which reduce or avoid GHG emissions. The funding is authorized by SB 862, Greenhouse gases: emissions reduction. Applicants to the Fund must demonstrate reduction of greenhouse gases as a result of implementing the proposed project.


Sacramento Tree Foundation’s Urban Wood Rescue

  • Sacramento Tree Foundation
  • City of Sacramento
  • CAL FIRE (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection)
Related Resources