Water Tower Park in Oakland, Illinois is the new home of 25 four-foot-tall oak trees. The trees – a mix of White Oak, Red Oak, and Bur Oak – were planted by local 4-H members, Master Naturalists, and community volunteers as part of the Illinois Green Communities Tree Program on Monday, April 3rd.
The Illinois Green Communities Tree Program is a partnership between Illinois 4-H and the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts (AISWCD) Forestry Committee to raise awareness of Illinois’ diminishing oak forests and to educate youth and community members on the value of native oak trees and forests to Illinois. Funding for the first two years of tree planting was provided by Illinois Forestry Development Council, University of Illinois Extension Foundation, and AISWCD. The statewide initiative is coordinated at the local level by Coles County 4-H and the Coles County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Special thanks to the Oakland Park District for this year’s planting site and for providing mulch for the trees. Last year’s tree planting location in Coles County was the Lake Charleston Spillway Park, in Charleston, Illinois.
After a successful 2022 planting campaign across 31 Illinois counties, this spring’s campaign expanded to 38 counties across the state – from Winnebago in the North to Massac in the South, and Adams in the West to Edgar in the East. Each participating district was supplied with 25 trees to be planted on a public site within the district. A total of 950 four-foot-tall potted oak trees supplied by Forrest Keeling Nursery of Elsberry, Missouri were planted this spring.
Throughout Illinois and the Midwest, oak-hickory forests are diminishing and being overtaken by less desirable forests of primarily beech and maple. It is projected that some Illinois oak-hickory forests, particularly in Southwestern Illinois, will be completely overtaken by beech and maple by 2050 if management practices aren’t initiated soon.