Planting community pride—reforesting the ‘Forest City’

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The Rockford Park District received grant notification of an award of $4,999.99 for forestry enhancement at Fairgrounds Park from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) through the Urban and Community Forestry program.

Fairgrounds Park is one of the oldest city parks in existence (1886), established long before the Rockford Park District was established in 1909. It was originally the site of the old county fairgrounds, and was the center of cultural and recreational activities for many years. General and President Ulysses S. Grant visited the site on Sept. 16, 1880, and the first national professional baseball league, the Forest Citys, played their home games at Fairgrounds Park.

Phase One of this multi-phase urban forestry project involves about 700 feet of stream bank along the western edge of the park. Plans include removal of dead trees, trees in decline, and invasive woody and non-woody plants along the banks of Kent Creek. Its overgrown present condition poses a safety and security issue, which will be improved with the completion of this project. Future phases may include planting appropriate tree species, stabilizing the stream bank and adding benches.

According to Judy Roby, grants coordinator for the Rockford Park District: “This project will enhance the overall park experience with the ability to enjoy the environmental beauty of this hidden inner-city oasis. This first phase will involve volunteers working with Rockford Park District and City of Gardens program staff and contractors. We have worked closely with the Upper Rock River EcoSystem Partnership and consultants to conduct an assessment of Kent Creek, and have made improvements north of this site as part of another IDNR C-2000-funded project.

The improvements at Fairgrounds Park are a continuation of those efforts to improve the quality and recreational opportunities of Kent Creek and the parks that border it. Currently, Kent Creek restoration is under way at Lockwood Park.

from the March 28-April 3, 2007, issue

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