The mighty oak, known for its longevity and stunning canopy, received a bit more attention last “OAKtober,” a month dedicated to rebuild the oak population from the ground up.
Richmond Burton High School in Illinois secured a ComEd Green Region grant for $10,000 to kick-off McHenry County Conservation District’s 100 Oaks for 100 Years initiative to plant 100 oaks in one mid-October weekend.
Shawn Kingzette, district manager at Northwest Chicago R/C office, was asked to join the tree planting project after a McHenry County Conservation District employee heard Kingzette discuss the decline of oak trees in the area during his radio segment called “Tree Talk” on the Harvard Community radio station.
“Many oak trees are located on private property,” Kingzette explains. “Homeowners are under the misconception that their trees will live forever and don’t recognize their oak trees may die sooner than they should without proper maintenance and treatments.”
During the 100 Oaks event, Kingzette and Foreman Baltazar Gomez worked together to educate homeowners about oak trees and the importance they play in their properties. Gomez performed a tree climbing demonstration every hour and discussed how to properly climb trees, safety precautions while climbing and when you should prune or remove trees in your landscape.
“We want to be the credible source for oak tree care in the community,” Kingzette says. “When the community has questions about oaks, we want to be the people they call.”
Together more than 400 community members, high school students and partner volunteers planted 1,000 trees, 10 times the original goal, to aid in the reforestation of a 20-acre oak woodland complex at Glacial Park, in Ringwood, Illinois. Homeowners also learned how to properly maintain and care for their oaks—thanks to Kingzette and Gomez—in an effort to keep well-established oaks on private properties thriving for many years to come.
“Everyone has the same goal to preserve oaks,” Kingzette says. “It’s great to be around a supportive community that loves trees just as much as we do.”