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The trees of “Ghost Forest”

Nov 23, 2021 | Art

The trees of “Ghost Forest”

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As Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest exhibition was coming to a close, we began to think about the Ghost Forest trees and what would happen next. How could we best repurpose the tree material while maintaining a low carbon footprint – all of which was very important not only to the artist  but to Madison Square Park Conservancy’s staff.  Almost serendipitously, in mid-October, we were approached independently by two New York City- organizations, Tri-Lox Millworks in Brooklyn and Rocking the Boat in the Bronx.  

Tri-Lox is a design and fabrication shop that specializes in salvaged timber.  They are on the cusp of launching an initiative with the NYC Parks Department to collect and mill tree material that Parks logs on a daily basis into usable lumber. Prior to this, most of the tree wood collected would have either been mulched or, worse, trucked to a landfill. 

Rocking the Boat is a non-profit that teaches New York City high school students boat building skills, environmental science and sailing.  Subsequently, students learn how to navigate their vessels on local waterways. Rocking the Boat constructs boats almost exclusively of Atlantic white cedar – the very trees of the Ghost Forest.

The Conservancy was presented with the opportunity to collaborate with two organizations to orchestrate a fitting and meaningful conclusion to the exhibition. 

The deinstall of Ghost Forest began during the week of November 15, 2021. Logs were positioned on the south end of the Oval Lawn. Last Friday , November 19, the Tri-Lox team arrived at the park with their twenty-six foot long portable sawmill and positioned it right by the laying trees.  Rocking the Boat arrived with a group of twenty-five high school students and their twenty-foot long flatbed trailer. A day of on-site milling ensued! By late afternoon, we had milled close to fifty logs and Rocking the Boat hauled away approximately two-hundred sawn planks for future boatbuilding endeavors.  

Logs that were unable to be cut on Friday are being transported this week to Tri-Lox’s facility and will continue to be milled there. Material that is too thin to yield cut lumber will be mulched here at the park and will be used to top-dress our temporary dog run which already has a wood chip base.

In the end, we will have found a second use for 100% of Ghost Forest all within the confines of New York City.

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