MENOMONIE — Mary Gale is hoping to educate people about an invasive species tree through a deck created from the wood.
Gale had a 12-by-8-foot deck built this summer by Heritage Builders of Menomonie of boards from an Amur cork tree harvested in spring 2016 at her property on 510th Street, just south of the city of Menomonie.
“I wanted to see if it would work,” Gale said. “The deck needed to be replaced anyway.”
The Amur cork tree boards are supposed to be naturally rot resistant, Gale said.
“Time will tell,” she said. “I love how it turned out, and I love the color,” she said of the clay-colored wood. “I think it was fairly easy to work with, but it took a long time to dry.”
The invasive tree is located largely in two areas in Dunn County — the south side of the city of Menomonie and south of the city near Highway Y, but it is spreading quickly.
Gale is the vice chairwoman of the Lower Chippewa Invasives Partnership and is working with other volunteers to help eliminate invasive species.
The fast-growing Amur cork tree takes over the wooded canopy crowding out other tree species, said Chris Gaetzke, chairman of the partnership.
Amur cork trees were introduced to the area about 33 years ago as a fast-growing ornamental tree from Asia.
The tree is fairly easy to spot because of its thick, corklike, spongy bark when mature. It also has a bright yellow inner bark. It tends to grow up to 6 feet a year.
“This vigorous growth rate can eventually out-compete the native forest species’ ability to regenerate, leaving only Amur cork trees dominating all other trees,” Gaetzke said in a letter to landowners believed to have Amur cork on their property.
Amur cork trees grow in both shaded and sunny lots. Birds eat the berries from female trees and then help spread the seed.
The Amur cork tree is native to China near the Amur River. Its yellow inner bark has been used medicinally, and the wood is used to make furniture.
Many times people like the tree but don’t realize it will crowd out all other species over time, Gale said.
Grants are available from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help with the eradication of invasive species, she said. Gale is on a three-year plan to have honeysuckle bush, buckthorn and Japanese barberry and Amur cork removed from 6 acres of her property in managed forestland.
“As a landowner, I want to do the responsible thing,” she said.