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A planned exhibit in the new Children’s Museum of Eau Claire would incorporate natural tree trunks used as support beams.

EAU CLAIRE — WholeTrees Structures of Madison has pledged to donate $425,000 in timber building products to the planned new Children's Museum of Eau Claire, museum officials announced Monday.

The timber will form the museum's primary support system consisting of columns, joist-trusses and girder-trusses in place to conventional steel, adding a modern twist to the building's northern Wisconsin aesthetic as well as a nod to the Chippewa Valley's logging history.

Wisconsin-based WholeTrees provides an incentive for healthy forest management by taking what would be forest waste and transforming it into a highly valued construction material called structural round timber, or SRT.

The company says the material helps reduce the carbon footprint of building construction.

"This project will showcase the role Wisconsin forest products, and carbon-smart building products, can play in transforming our built environment and our relationship to our natural resources," Amelia Baxter, CEO and co-founder of WholeTrees, said in a news release. "WholeTrees is committed to supporting the project team’s vision by making timber product innovation affordable to a project touching so many lives and imaginations."

WholeTrees also brought together other leaders in the forest products and construction industries to contribute to this first-of-its-kind SRT structural system.

KPFF Consulting Engineers of Seattle also donated a portion of its services, and Port Blakely of Washington state will donate Douglas fir from its "carbon forest," where longer rotation harvests and careful management make it eligible for carbon credits that are sold on international carbon cap-and-trade markets. 

"The Children’s Museum is honored to receive this funding support from WholeTrees Structures,” museum executive director Michael McHorney said in the release. "Their commitment not only helps us reach our evolving goal of being a good steward of the environment, but also combines with support from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to equal over $900,000 in funding coming from outside our community or the Chippewa Valley region towards the building of a new children’s museum."

McHorney has said officials plan to operate the new museum with 100% renewable energy.