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I don't think white (paper) birch is native around here. It grows, but I've only seen it planted as an ornamental. I've found river birch in local woods. From what I can gather from the wood database, it seems like birch would make a good stick wood.

The river birch bark I've seen is very flakey, and I do suppose the top layers would peel away easily. The under layers might be tougher. I found this site which describes conditioning birch bark for knife handles. Might be a lot of work, but the article says the feel is nice and supple.
 
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