Students at Edith Wolford Elementary School in Black Forest have had a traumatic summer and when they go back to school in the fall there will be some sense of normalcy.
There will probably be some burnt trees around the school as the fire came within feet of the building but waiting to greet them will be some friendly little critters. These critters aren’t of the furry kind but rather the wooden kind.
Chainsaw artist Bill Fee of Nature of Things Chain Saw Art in Manitou Springs and his team went out to the school, at the request of Academy School District 20, and carved woodland creatures into some of the burnt trees.
“We’re going to give them a second life,” Fee said.
Fee has been a chainsaw artist for 18 years and has turned burnt trees in the Hayman and Waldo Canyon burn areas into works of art.
At Wolford he has carved two squirrels, which is the school mascot, and two other trees measuring eight-feet high will have multiple animals carved on them such as eagles, raccoons and owls.
“This will get the students talking about nature in their science classes and I hope to provide some inspiration to the art students,” Fee said.
Fee said he doesn’t touch trees that may come back and aren’t dead.
“These are black and burnt trees. There’s no doubt they are dead. Our hope is some of the growth comes back in the other trees,” Fee added.
Fee said after a fire many people just want to cut all the trees down but some people are really attached to their trees and having a tree carved helps preserve it. Polyurethane is applied to the woodcarving so it does not decompose. He hopes that residents will drive by the school and see the carved woodland animals and get the idea to do the same with some of the trees on their property.
“We’re really hoping that this catches on with Black Forest,” Fee said.