Free oak trees!

Free oak trees!


Rock River Trail Initiative to distribute free bur, swamp, white and red oak trees in the 11 counties of the Rock River

Staff Report

Beginning Wednesday, April 13, representatives of the Rock River Trail Initiative will drop off free oak trees for parks, homes, farms and businesses along the 285 miles of the Rock River, beginning in Rock Island County.

The trail initiative began in February 2010 and held the first meeting in history of all 33 municipalities and 10 counties on the mainstream of the Rock River April 16, 2010, in Rockford.

“Our second annual conference will be April 28 here at Rockford’s Clock tower Resort and Conference Center,” said the trail’s founder, Frank Schier. “And these trees are a gift or calling card to introduce all of our neighbors to the trail with long-lasting elements of our environment—oak trees. I’m really excited about the trip. This unusual journey will be fun, and I’m going to get to meet in person a fine group of folks who have been very, very helpful by phone.”

The main goal of the Rock River Trail Initiative, whose parent organization is the 501 (c)(3) Friends of the Rock, is to found a National Scenic, Recreational and Historic Trail along the 285 miles of the Rock River, from its source above the Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin to its mouth at the Quad Cities in Illinois. Eco-tourism and the resulting economic development and jobs will reinforce the goals of protecting and improving the water quality and general environment along the Rock River.

Through the Quad Cities Waterkeeper Art Norris (, Chad Pregracke, president of Living Lands and Waters’ One Million Trees program, has donated 10,000 trees to the Rock River Trail Initiative, to be distributed to all 11 counties along the Rock River. At the Feb. 3 Rock River Trail national and state legislative briefing in Rockford, Pregracke liked what he heard about the Rock River Trail Initiative so much he increased his initial offering of 5,000 trees to 10,000.

The trees will be bur oak, swamp oak, white oak, and red oak. Each sapling is 2 to 4 feet long, rooted. The trees will be delivered to the 11 counties of the Rock River Trail.

Tentatively, the trees will be distributed in Rock Island, Henry and Whiteside counties April 13; Lee, Ogle, Winnebago, Rock and Dane counties April 14; and Jefferson, Dodge and Fond du Lac counties April 15. Depending on the temperature, the delivery may be more prompt.

With the only caveat being the trees must be planted within sight of the Rock River, each of the 11 counties will get 910 trees. Half, or 455, of the trees are slated for the public sector: city, county, state and national parks, preserves or conservation areas. The other 455 trees are slated for commercial businesses and residences along the Rock River.

This is also an invitation for the citizens, tourism-oriented businesses, elected officials and naturalists of your area to “2nd Annual Meet the Neighbors, Re-Discovering the Rock River: an exploration, inventory, assessment and declaration of the Rock River Trail” April 28 at the Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center in Rockford, Illinois. Yes, the Rock River Trail is being built, and many will be surprised how much of it already exists! Please join your river neighbors for a discussion of marketing and improving our environment!

Many thanks to Larry Dunphy/Books on First, Deb Carey, Chad Pregracke and all their staffs. Special thanks to Warren Green, branch rental manager of Penske Truck Rentals in Rockford, Ill., who has donated a 8,000-pound capacity truck for the pick-up and delivery of the oak trees. For more information go to Special thanks to the City of Rockford and Mayor Lawrence “Larry” J. Morrissey for the donation of $500 for fuel costs, and to Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen and the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District for $1300 to advertise with the Illinois and Wisconsin Press Associations.

Local Distribution Contacts

In Rock Island County, the distribution point will be at Blackhawk Park, 1510 42nd Ave., Rock Island, IL 61264; Contact Marilyn Andress at: 309-292-0690 or e-mail:

For Henry County, contact Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District Chairman Mr. Jerry Snodgrass, 301 East North Street, Cambridge, IL 61238. Distribution TBA. Phone: 309/937-5263 (Ext. 3)

For Lee County, contact  Executive Director Debra Carey of the Dixon Park District, 804 Palmyra Street, Dixon, IL 61021. Phone: (815) 284-3306. Distribution TBA. Other sites may be announced.

For Whiteside County, contact Whiteside County Soil and Water Conservation District Resource Conservationist Dave Harrison, USDA Bldg. 16255 Liberty Street, Morrison, IL 61270. Distribution TBA. Phone:815/772-2124 (Ext. 3)

For Ogle County, contact Byron Forest Preserve Executive Director Todd Tucker, 7993 North River Road Byron, IL 61010-9533, Distribution TBA. Phone  (815) 234-8535.

For Winnebago County, contact Rockford Park District Manager Horticulturalist for Parks Dan Erwin, Distribution of the trees will be on Sat., April 16, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as supply lasts at RPD Trolley Station, 302 N. Madison. Phone (815)-987-1661.

For Rock County, contact County Conservationist Thomas Sweeney, USDA – Service Center, 440 N US Highway 14, Janesville, WI  53546, located in the USDA Service Center on Highway 14, east of Janesville. Distribution TBA. Phone (608) 754-6617, Extension 115.

For 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 53718 ; Contact Pete Jopke by phone at (608) 224-3730 or e-mail to

For Jefferson County, contact Land & Water Conservation Department Director Mark Watkins, 320 South Main St. Rm. 113, Jefferson, WI 53549 Distribution TBA. Phone: 920.674.7110 or (920) 674-7111.

For Dodge County, the distribution point will be the offices of  Dodge County Land Conservation Department; 127 E Oak St.; Juneau, WI  53039; Contact Marc Bethke by phone at (920) 386-3660 or e-mail Other sites may be announced.

For Fond du Lac County, contact City of Waupun Director of Public Works 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)

Watch and for distribution updates.

From the April 6-12, 2011 issue of The Rock River Times