Enjoy FREE oak trees and save the Monarchs

The Rock River Trail honors Arbor Day & addresses Monarch butterfly crisis

By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher

Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a free oak tree and learning how to help the Monarch butterfly by planting milkweed.

For the fourth year in a row, the Rock River Trail Initiative (RRTI) will distribute 10,000 trees in the 11 counties of the Rock River, April 23, April 24 and April 25. Chad Pregracke, president of Living Lands and Waters’ One Million Trees program, has donated these 40,000 trees to the Rock River Trail Initiative and our river. Visit www.livinglandsandwaters.org/milliontrees/default.htm.

For the first year, the RRTI will also distribute information about regional sources for milkweed seeds for the propagation of the endangered Monarch butterfly, with the goal of making the 320-mile course of the Rock River a Monarch butterfly corridor (See sidebars).

While oak trees have been the RRTI calling card for the last four years, the Rock River Trail Initiative’s main goal was to found a National Water Trail along the 320 miles of the Rock River, from its source above the Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin to its mouth at the Quad Cities in Illinois. This was achieved March 11, 2013, when Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis made the designation including the Rock River Trail in the National Water Trail System. Out of 14 national water trails, the Rock River Trail was the 10th trail in the nation to achieve such a distinction.

Also in 2013, the Wisconsin and Illinois state legislatures designated the Rock River Trail Scenic and Historic Route on roads adjacent to the Rock River’s course in both states.

The RRTI has recently completed q-sheets (turn-by-turn directions) for a bike route along the Rock River, and is working with Winnebago County’s WinGIS department on producing a biking map.

According to availability, each county will receive 100 bur oak, 100 swamp white oak, 225 pin oak, 225 black oak and 250 red oak. Each sapling is 2 to 4 feet long, rooted.

Tentatively, the trees will be distributed in Rock Island, Henry, and Whiteside counties April 23; Lee, Ogle, Winnebago, Rock, and Dane counties April 24; and Jefferson, Dodge and Fond du Lac counties April 25. Depending on the temperature, the delivery may be more prompt. Each county will have its own distribution schedule for the public.

With the only caveats being the trees must be planted within sight of the Rock River or near the mouth of one of its tributaries, each of the 11 counties will get at least 900 trees. With 450 trees slated for the public sector: city, county, state, and national parks, preserves or conservation areas, the other 450 trees are slated for farms, residences and businesses along the Rock River.

Many thanks to all of the great folks who have helped so much in all counties, especially Chad Pregracke and Ashley Stover. Thanks to Penske Truck Rentals in Rockford, Ill., for donating an 8,000-pound capacity truck for the pick-up and delivery of the oak trees. For more information, go to www.GoPenske.com. Special thanks to the City of Rockford and Mayor Lawrence “Larry” J. Morrissey (I) for the donation of $500 for fuel costs, and thanks to Thrift-Remsen Printers for instruction sheet printing.

Delivery schedule, contacts and locations

Target Delivery Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Rock Island County, the distribution point will be at Black Hawk State Historic Site maintenance shop, 1510 46th Ave., Rock Island, Ill., April 24,1 to 5 p.m. If this time is inconvenient, contact the Rock Island County RRTI Council Member Dean Mathias, (309) 737-8429, e-mail mathiasdeandeb@peoplepc.com.

For Henry County while supplies last, contact Dorothy and Carles Brown of the Natural Area Guardians 309-441-5314 or cardor@geneseo.net.

For Whiteside County while supplies last, contact Whiteside County Soil and Water Conservation District Resource Conservationist Dave Harrison, USDA Bldg., 16255 Liberty St., Morrison, IL 61270, 815-772-2124 (Ext. 3). The Rock River Trail Initiative council member for Whiteside County is Loren Swartleym, 815-626-5003, lswartley@att.net.

Target Delivery Thursday, April 24, 2014

For Lee County while supplies last, contact Carol Chandler, director of Dixon’s Tree Committee. Phone: (815) 288-6310. The Rock River Trail Initiative Council member for Lee County is Debbie Thompson, also board member for The Next Picture Show Gallery, artist and canoeist. Phone (815) 440-1476.

For Ogle County while supplies last, contact Byron Forest Preserve District Executive Director Todd Tucker, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, IL 61010-9533, (815) 234-8535. The Rock River Trail Initiative Council members for Ogle County are President and Vice President of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association Drs. Bob and Sonia Vogl, (815) 732-7332, and Oregon Park District Recreation Program Manager Candice Holbrook, 815-732-3101.

For Winnebago County while supplies last, distribution of the trees will be on Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. as supplies last at RPD Trolley Station, 302 N. Madison. From 8 a.m to noon, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful (KNIB) as part of the Great American Clean Up will offer trees at: • Rockton Village Green Park, 149 E. Chapel St., Rockton; • Roscoe Public Works Building, 5402 Swanson Road, Roscoe; • South Beloit Fire Station, 149 Gardner St., South Beloit; • and New Milford Village Hall, 6771 11th St., New Milford. The Rock River Trail Initiative Council members for Winnebago County are Rockford Park District Executive Director Emeritus and Historian Webbs Norman, President of the Illinois Paddling Council Tom Lindblade and The Rock River Times Editor & Publisher Frank Schier, (815) 670-6440.

For Rock County while supplies last, contact County Conservationist Thomas Sweeney, USDA – Service Center, 440 N. U.S. Highway 14, Janesville, WI 53546, located in the USDA Service Center on Highway 14, east of Janesville, (608) 754-6617, ext. 3. To reserve trees in Rock County, ask for Tom or Norm. Trees will be ready for distribution Friday, April 25, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The Rock River Trail Initiative Council members for Rock County are City of Beloit City Councilor Sheila De Forest, phone (608) 312-2695, and Rock County Parks Communications Coordinator Dave Hoffman, phone (608) 757-5473.

In Dane County while supplies last, the distribution point will be the offices of Dane County Land and Water Resources Department, 1 Fen Oak Court, Room 208, Madison, WI 53718; Contact Pete Jopke by phone at (608) 224-3733 or e-mail to jopke@countyofdane.com. The Dane County Rock River Trail Council member is Dave Schreiber, principal, Schreiber/Anderson Associates, phone (608) 255-0800.

Target Delivery Friday April 25, 2014

For Jefferson County while supplies last, contact Land & Water Conservation Department Director Mark Watkins, 320 S. Main St., Rm.113, Jefferson, WI 53549, (920) 674-7110 or (920) 674-7111. The Jefferson County Rock River Trail Initiative Council members are Rock River Coalition Secretary and Director James Kerler, phone 920- 648-8005, and Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Nehmer, phone (920) 674-7260.

In Dodge County while supplies last, the distribution point will be the offices of Dodge County Land Resources and Parks Department, 127 E. Oak St., Juneau, WI 53039; Contact Rock River Trail Council member Bill Ehlenbeck at (920) 386-3702 or e-mail to behlenbeck@co.dodge.wi.us.

In Fond du Lac County while supplies last, contact City of Waupun Director of Public Works and Rock River Trail Initiative Council member Dick Flynn, 201 E. Main St., Waupun, WI 53963. Distribution will be at the City Garage, 903 N. Madison, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Phone (920) 324-7918 or e-mail dick@cityofwaupun.org.

From the April 23-29, 2014 issue

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