Dane County Parks staff have removed unsafe silver maples and invasive bushes from Anderson Farm County Park lands to move the dog park project forward.

Roe Parker, Anderson Park Friends, Inc. president, told the Observer a bike trail connecting the 40-acre dog park with South Main Street in Oregon will give residents easy access to the space. The trail will go through the Arthur Scholts Memorial Woods, located in the park property, and continue parallel to Union Road until it reaches the dog park, he said.

To replace the downed trees, the county is planning to put in native trees and shrubs along the bike path – the species for which DCP and APF are still determining, Parker said.

That planting will start later this year, Parker said, or in early 2021. When finished, Parker said the bike trail will be enclosed in a corridor of native species.

“Our strategy is to plant native understory trees and shrubs … in the coming years you’ll see an increasing diversity of plants in the woods and supporting birds, bees and insects,” he said.

While preparing the roadbed for the trail earlier in January, Parker said the public raised concerns about trees being removed from the Memorial Woods and along Union Road. The silver maples of trees in the area were rotting and considered unsafe, Parker said.

The county did a study on the health of the trees prior to their removal, Parker added.

“Core samples were taken of the interior parts of the trees,” he said. “It was only a matter of time before they would need to come down.

Many of the trees also had traces of metal in them, Parker said.

“This means some grinding and cutting tasks can’t be done,” he said. “In addition, utility cables are buried directly underneath some of them.”

In addition to trees, staff has been removing invasive species of buckthorn from the Memorial Woods for four years. Parker called it a “buckthorn war” – staff burned 20 small brush piles and other invasive bushes, like honeysuckle.

Invasive species like buckthorn and honeysuckle bushes are major problems for forests because of their aggressive nature and their ability to stunt the growth of native trees, Parker said.

“They take away needed water and have so much vegetation they inhibit needed airflow and sunlight.”

Parker added that winter is one of the safest times of the year to burn brush because of the snow cover.

The county finds ways to reuse portions of trees that can be salvaged after removal, Parker said.

He said when the county finds quality wood from removals, it gets milled and turned into shelters, benches and kiosks in parks around the area. A lot of the wood also gets chipped and used on hiking trails.

“When we find hollow trees, like the silver maples along Union Road, they become enrichment for (animal habitats) at Henry Vilas Zoo,” he said.

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.