OTTAWA – Elementary schools throughout Illinois will plant about 10,000 seedling oak trees to commemorate Earth Day on Thursday, April 22.
The seedlings are the project of the Illinois Department of Transportation and Living Lands and Waters, a non-profit organization headquartered in East Moline.
One school in each of IDOT’s nine districts statewide will participate.
The participant in IDOT’s District 3, which is headquartered in Ottawa, is the Ottawa Grade School District, which will receive and plant 300 of the seedlings. No schools in Grundy County will participate.
“We can only go so far with how many seedling trees we can give out,” noted District 3 spokesman Steve Massey.
“We are working with one elementary school district within each IDOT district. The schools chosen are located at the headquarters of each IDOT District.”
The seedling trees are free to the state agency from Living Lands and Waters.
“IDOT is not spending money on the program,” Massey said.
The seedlings are 1 1/2 feet to 3 feet tall. The program is part of a project of Living Lands and Waters, which is trying to plant a million oak trees within a certain number of years.
“The whole point of this (Earth Day project) is to get the 10,000 trees planted.” Massey said.
Late last fall, Massey and IDOT teamed up to plant 250 seedling oaks of various species at the west end of Illini State Park at Marseilles as a memorial to the Illinois soldiers killed in combat in the nation’s wars in the Middle East.
The seedlings were planted in a half-day by volunteer labor, including members of Marseilles Labor Local 393.
Massey said Thursday all the seedlings appear to have survived the winter, and are budding out leaves at this time.