Ideas invited for use of wood from Grand Marais elm trees

As reported by WTIP Community Radio, a number of large elm trees were removed from the Highway 61 corridor in the fall of 2019. Many were saddened by the removal of the trees to make way for the Minnesota Department of Transportation and City of Grand Marais highway improvement project. There was a call to save the wood from the felled trees, for possible use by local artists.

The City of Grand Marais agreed to preserve the wood and the trunks were hauled to Hedstrom Lumber Company in Grand Marais for safekeeping.

The Creative Economy Collaborative (CEC) an advisory council to the Grand Marais City Council on arts-related projects was tasked with determining the best use of the wood. The CEC has been meeting to come up with a plan for the distribution of the wood to the community. The CEC is now calling for letters of intent to gauge interest.

Community members are invited to submit ideas for creating an object or objects working directly with the wood, or creating and/or funding an opportunity for a local artist or craftsperson. Some ideas discussed have been wooden bowls, benches or tables or keychain-size keepsakes.

According to the CEC, the amount of wood available is approximately five to six cords, about 12 – 30 inches in diameter and up to 9-foot lengths. It is estimated that there are 1,000 board feet of usable wood, depending on how it is milled.

Anyone interested in using the elm wood is encouraged to submit a letter of intent by March 24. The form can be found here.

The CEC will begin the review of the proposals on April 2 and hopes to respond to applicants in mid-May.

The wood is not accessible at this time but will be available for pickup after snowmelt. There is no charge for use of the wood, however, artists will be asked to provide some sort of report to the CEC regarding how the wood was used.

More information is available from Mary Somnis, executive director of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority, which is providing staff support to the CEC. Somnis can be reached by email at director@prosperitynorth.com
or by calling 218-387-3112.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence gets more details on the distribution of the elm wood from Mary Somnis in this interview.