New Program Launches
The goal of the new Community Trees Program (CTP) is to share a vision of a sustainable community sheltered by a vibrant canopy of diverse, enduring trees to enhance the quality of life in the Rockford area.
Rockford has a legacy of pride in all things green and growing and has the monikers “The Forest City” and “The City of Gardens”. Engaging the community in restoring trees and the community “forest” offers a simple and approachable strategy to foster community pride. Klehm Board President, John Richards and Executive Director, Jane Snively shared its vision of a sylvan city with influential allies and earned the endorsement and support of the following key agencies to launch the CTP.
- The Winnebago County Forest Preserve District, which owns Klehm Arboretum
- The Rockford Park District
- Winnebago County
- The City of Rockford
- Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
While a collaborative Community Trees Program can, over time achieve long-term success in forestry education and conservation, the need to act is immediate. Invasive pests threaten our trees and the losses can be sudden and severe. Emerald ash borer, an invasive insect from China has already killed an estimated 25 million ash trees in the Midwest and could wipe out the nearly 6800 ash trees just on Rockford’s public right-of-way. Working with public and private landowners we can preserve valuable trees and mitigate losses that could scar Rockford as Dutch elm disease did in the 1960’s.
The Community Trees Program will fully assess forestry needs and opportunities in our area. We will rally allies and partners to help educate residents of all ages and to join in planting and caring for them. Together, we will join forces to attain a vibrant community forest.