Forest Products Laboratory Featured in America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell

Chuck Leavell – Courtesy of America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell

On October 21st, 2020, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) director, Tony Ferguson, represented FPL in a panel discussion for the premier of the most recent episodes of America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell (AFCL). FPL was featured in a segment showcasing its long history of forest products research, testing, and innovation.

Tony Ferguson
FPL Director

Director Ferguson articulated that FPL has had a long history of being a champion in innovative land and forest use. The FPL segment of AFCL captured this message and the spirit of its history in a tantalizing, bite-sized featurette.  

The two 25-minute episodes, Wisconsin North and South, covered the scope and interconnected nature of Wisconsin’s forests and conservation work while giving a nod to FPL’s connection to it all.

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An Iconic Wisconsin Landmark Rises Again and Takes Flight: The Eagle Tower Project

The original Eagle Tower, erected in 1932 in Peninsula State Park – Photo Credit: Yinan Chen – Friends of the Peninsula State Park

If you live in Wisconsin, chances are that you at least know of Eagle Tower. More likely, you—along with thousands of visitors from around the world—have had indelible experiences of taking in spectacular views of Lake Michigan, the surrounding islands, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Eagle tower offered a captivating and much beloved panorama of Peninsula State Park.

Built in 1932, the observation tower was a 76-foot timber structure. But in 2015 the tower’s deteriorating state caused the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to have serious concerns about its structural integrity and safety. The Wisconsin DNR asked Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) to assess the structure. “Nondestructive Assessment of Wood Members from a Historic Viewing Tower” is a detailed publication of their findings on Eagle Tower’s condition.

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FPL Researcher Featured on Seeker Wild Crime

Seeker Wild Crime Media Logo

Forest Product’s Laboratory’s (FPL) research botanist Alex Wiedenhoeft  is being featured in a “Seeker Wild Crime” episode for his collaborative research on wood forensics and his groundbreaking technological innovation that is combatting global illegal logging.

Alex C. Wiedenhoeft, Ph.D.
Wood Anatomy and Forest Mycology in a

Changing Global Environment
Research Botanist and Team Leader

Seeker is an American digital media network and publisher that produces online science-based content reaching millions each month. The Seeker Media’s mission statement is to “empower the curious to understand the science that is shaping our world.”

Find out how Wiedenhoeft and Assistant Scientist from the University of Wisconsin, Prabu Ravindran, are positively shaping the world by watching the SeekerMedia Wild Crime episode called, “How Illegal Logging is Funding Organized Crime.” See it at https://www.facebook.com/107124643386/videos/682354979370935

Want to learn more about the amazing advancements our scientists are making? Visit the Forest Products Laboratory at https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/

Throwback Thursday: The FPL Rotting Pit

Thanks to Grant Kirker for writing this fascinating look back into Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) history and science. Kirker is a Research Forest Products Technologist at FPL in the Durability and Wood Protection Research unit.

Throughout its 110-year history, FPL has participated in groundbreaking wood research both nationally and internationally. The FPL research libraries contain a virtual treasure trove of information pertaining to the wise use of wood and wood-based materials. Historical overviews like this would not be possible without them.

One of the earliest endeavors at the newly established Forest Products Laboratory, then located at 1509 University Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin, was the testing of preservative treated wood for the expanding railroad sector in the US. The swift growth of railways across the country had created a huge demand for suitable hardwoods. But high decline rates due to wood rot fungi was a constant concern leading to an unreasonable amount of wood being used to replace rapidly rotting railroad ties. The dawn of wood preservation research at FPL was aimed at increasing the service life of rail ties to reduce the demand on America’s forests.  

Original Forest Products Laboratory Building at 1509 University Avenue
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FPL Researchers Pioneering Steps into a Sustainable Plastics Future

As the public focuses more on climate change and sustainability solutions, the numbers and facts can be staggering, nearly crippling to think about. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, and our fish seem to be drowning in plastic instead of thriving under the sea. A June 2020, National Geographic article that projected 600 million metric tons of plastic waste in the ocean by 2040 if global plastic habits don’t change.

Hearing these projections and statistics can be discouraging and scary.

Ronald Sabo
Engineered Composites Science
Research Materials Engineer

But fear not, people like Forest Products Laboratory’s (FPL) Ron Sabo and his team of researchers are looking up the mountain, seeing the goal of a sustainable-eco-plastic future at the top and taking on the challenge with the diligent steps needed to make that future a reality.

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