This Furniture Maker Has an Idea for California’s 102 Million Dead Trees

California, furniture, wood, forests, drought, Leon Kaye, Kickstarter
Console table by SapphirePine, constructed from trees lost to California’s drought

California is slowly recovering from a painful drought due to several months of plentiful rain and snow, and has reversed most of the statewide water restrictions. Nevertheless, the state’s landscape will long suffer from this painful legacy: over 102 million dead trees, most of which are in the Sierra Nevada mountains and surrounding foothills, are scattered across California’s forests. Trees that died off during the drought were joined by others that became weakened and succumbed to pests such as beetles.

No easy answers exist for coping with all these dead trees. If you happen to be camping at a state park or national forest in the Sierras, there is plenty of fuel for pit fires. Some conservationists have suggested clearing that wood and using it for biomass energy. Most of these dead trees standing or lying around, waiting for nature’s cycle to take its course. But none of those options is ideal, as one way or another, they allow for more emissions to enter the atmosphere.

A pair of furniture makers have another idea: transform that wood into functional objects that are also climate-friendly.

Sam Schabacker and Sandra Lupien founded SapphirePine, a product line of contemporary furniture that showcases this wood’s nature beauty. The company salvages dead native conifers, which include ponderosa, coulter and foxtail pines. That wood, in addition to being lightweight yet sturdy, also offers aesthetic appeal due the streaks of blue and grey often interspersed within the grain.

SapphirePine is currently taking custom orders for dining tables, benches and coffee tables. The company also has launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds for a van and tools its co-founders say are needed to increase both quality and production.

Image credit: SapphirePine

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Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is a business writer and strategic communications specialist. He has also been featured in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. When he has time, he shares his thoughts on his own site, Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

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