Belle Isle, Detroit (CBS Detroit) – The Arboriculture Society of Michigan Foundation was established in 2015 to promote Arboriculture and Urban Forestry professions across the Great Lakes region.

The community-wide collaborative offers scholarships, financial support, and historical preservation initiatives to preserve the rich history of these fields and educate the public.

Joe Aiken leads the ASM Foundation as President, and recently, his team has been working on an exciting volunteer project: restoring the historic Belle Isle Saw Mill in Detroit.

“I think it’s pretty amazing how many people have visited this island their whole life, and never realized that there was a sawmill here,” says Aiken. “This sawmill has actually been on the Island since around 1905.”

“The City of Detroit decided that they weren’t going to waste any trees that came down within the city, elaborates Aiken. “Even back in that day, they had estimated that there was over $3 million of standing timber on the streets of Detroit. Every tree that came down within the city of Detroit, the Detroit Forestry Department would get the logs here. Then the logs would be milled and re-purposed into furniture, and even roads believe it or not.”

“Having that electric motor rebuilt and this saw running again is not going to be very hard at all. I really do want to see this building repaired, restored, and used for education. It was constructed in 1937 through a workforce grant from the government. We had to make sure that this building was sound enough to be slated for restoration, and this building is rock-solid still.”

So what’s the ultimate goal of this project, Joe? “To bring children down to see how we can go from trees to timber would be the ultimate goal. Just to show them that Home Depot gets their wood from somewhere, and we have that opportunity to show them where that wood comes from in a historical setting.”

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