Giving old Eagle trees new life |

Giving old Eagle trees new life

Caramie Schnell
VAIL CO, Colorado
HL bear carver 1 KA 1-25-12

Uriel Mendoza takes dead trees and gives them new life – as sculptures.

Mendoza, a chainsaw sculptor based in New Mexico, is in town selling wooden bear sculptures in the parking lot of Primavera Liquors in Eagle.

On Wednesday he took his chainsaw to a towering Cottonwood, part of a 150-year-old tree that used to be on Lionel Gonzalez’ property. Gonzalez owns Primavera, located at 332 Grand Avenue, Mendoza said.

“He wanted to save part of the tree, because of the memories,” Mendoza said. “The tree had been there forever. Kids used to play under the tree.”

Mendoza owns Bears R Us with his wife, Aggie. He specializes in bear sculptures, and also makes totem poles, benches, accent tables and more.

Earlier in the week, Mendoza carved a pair of bears into a dead juniper tree at Carrol Osteen’s home in Gypsum, located south of the airport.

“He came out yesterday and cut us a really neat bear,” Osteen said. “There are still green branches around it, and so it looks like he’s looking out from the branches.

“We were trying to use the dead tree, we didn’t want to just cut it down,” she continued.

Even though the Osteen calls the juniper trees on their property “weird” – “they have a lot of branches, some as big as the trunk itself,” she said – she didn’t want to just chop it down.

“The trees are scrubby, and not all that beautiful, but when it’s all you’ve got, you like them,” she said.

The Osteens had purchased a bear from Mendoza around four years ago, and stopped to see him in Eagle when they saw he was back in town, selling his bears.

“We asked him about doing custom work. The reason I figured I should hurry is my husband was figuring out what he would carve in the tree,” she said, laughing. “We had him come out and in three hours, he cut a few different bear faces.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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