10,000 free oak & hickory saplings to be distributed by Rock River Trail

Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day by planting a free oak or hickory tree!

For the 13th year in a row, the Rock River Trail Initiative (RRTI) will distribute saplings along the Rock River corridor in mid-April.

Chad Pregracke, president of Living Lands and Waters’ One Million Trees program, has graciously donated over 137,000 trees to the Rock River Trail Initiative and our watershed over the last 13 years.

A BIG THANK YOU! Steve Rypkema, recently retired Director of Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department,  has coordinated this effort for the last several years. We are so appreciative of the work and miles he has put in delivering the trees to the  eleven counties in Illinois and Wisconsin which border the Rock River.

The goal of this project is to re-establish native, nut-bearing, hardwood trees along waterways to help reduce erosion, improve water & air quality, provide shelter and food for wildlife, and to improve biodiversity.

According to availability, each county will receive bur oak, red oak, and swamp white oak and hickory saplings. Each sapling is 1 to 2 feet long and bare-rooted. The trees will be distributed in Rock Island, Henry, Whiteside, Lee, Ogle and Winnebago counties in Illinois, and Rock, Dane and Jefferson counties in Wisconsin. Each county will have its own distribution method.

The only caveat is the trees should be planted near the Rock River or near the mouth of one of its tributaries. Trees are available for the public sector: city, county, state, parks, preserves and conservation areas, and for private individuals on farms, residences and businesses along the Rock River—all free of charge.

The Rock River Trail Initiative established 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 in March of 2013, when it was designated a National Water Trail by the National Park Service. The Rock River Water 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.

Many thanks to all of the great folks who have helped so much, especially Chad Pregracke and Tammy Becker of Living Lands and Waters, and Steve Rypkema of Ogle County.



In Rock Island County contact the Rock Island County RRTI Council Member Dean Mathias, 309-737-8429.

For Henry County contact Dorothy and Carles Brown of the Natural Area Guardians, 309-441-5314, or contact the Henry County Soil & Water Cons. District, 309-973-3377, 301 E North St., Cambridge, IL.

For Whiteside County contact Whiteside County Soil and Water Conservation District, USDA Bldg., 16255 Liberty St., Morrison, IL, 815-772-2124 (Ext.3).

For Lee County contact Dixon Park District; Lowell Park Nature Center, 815-284-3306.

For Ogle County contact Byron Forest Preserve District, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, IL, 815-234-8535; or Steve Rypkema of Ogle County Solid Waste Management Dept., 909 Pines Rd., Oregon, IL, 815-732-4020.

For Winnebago County & Stateline Area – Nature At The Confluence in South Beloit, call 815-200-6910 for more information.

For Rock County contact Rock County Land Conservation Department Senior Conservation Specialist Norm Tadt; USDA Service Center, 440 N. U.S. Highway 14, Janesville, WI,  608-754-6617 x117.

In Dane County the distribution point will be the offices of Dane County Land and Water Resources Department, 1 Fen Oak Court, Room 208, Madison, WI; Contact 608-224-3762.

For Jefferson County contact Jefferson County Parks, 311 S. Center Avenue, Jefferson, WI, phone 920-674-7452.

For Dodge County contact Dodge County Land Resources & Parks Dept., 127 E. Oak St., Juneau, WI, phone 920-210-6253.

For Fond du Lac County contact the City of Waupun, 201 E. Main Street, Waupun, WI, phone 920-324-7918.