Winnebago County’s part of 1 million free trees

Filling a hole around a newly planted tree

“As of this year, we will reached our goal of planting 1 million trees, and we will continue with our new nursery in Iowa,” said Tammy Becker, the programs manager for Chad Pregracke’s (CNN Hero Of The Year 2014) Living Lands & Waters (LLW). You can learn more about this amazing organization at

With the trees again courtesy of LLW, the Rock River Trail Initiative’s sixth annual 10,000 tree distribution this past weekend went very well. The trees were distributed in two days rather than three along the entire 320-mile course of the Rock River. Demand is building in each of the 11 counties that the Rock River runs through.

In Winnebago County, Khelm Arboretum, 2715 S. Main St., was a first-time location for free oak trees, and more than 300 swamp white and bur oak trees were picked up last Saturday and Sunday. Klehm Executive Director Dan Riggs said he was pleased with the response, and he will interplant 100 of the new oaks among mature oaks as part of Klehm’s ongoing restoration efforts.  Another 150 of the oaks will be given away at the third Annual Arbor Dash 5K, Friday, April 29. Call Klehm at 815-965-8146 for more information.

As in past years, the great Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful organization will distribute the oak trees during its impressive Great American Clean Up, Saturday, April 30 at the New Milford Village Hall, 6771 S. 11th St., and at Rockton’s Village Green Park, 100 E. Chapel St. Register by calling  815-637-1343, or register the day of the event at Patriots’ Gateway Center, 615 S. 5th St.

The ever-dependable Rockford Park District’s Supervisor of Horticulture and Natural Areas Nathan Hill said he gave away 47 swamp white oaks and 50 bur oaks on Saturday at the Trolley Station.  His remaining 250 trees will be planted on park property, replacing trees that fell to the Emerald Ash Bore, as well as in Atwood Park to create some oak savannas.  Hill will also give trees to the Rockford’s forestry department.  

“Thanks again for another successful year,” said Hill.

With great help in 11 Rock River counties, the Rock River Trail Initiative is proud to have distributed 62,000 of those 1 million trees.

“Tell whoever was responsible, this was the best job of wrapping the trees I’ve seen in the last six years,” said Rock River Trail Initiative Council Member Dean Mathias of Rock Island. “They were all wrapped in plastic film, and will keep better before planting as a result. Tell them, ‘Good Job!’”

–Frank Schier, Editor & Publisher

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