On Oct. 13, the Kane County Board followed the lead of Gov. Bruce Rauner by proclaiming the month of October Oak Awareness Month.
The resolution and proclamation places a critical spotlight on oak species throughout the state, an important native tree species that is disappearing from Illinois’ landscape. Oak trees were once abundant throughout the state. In the 1880s, oaks comprised more than 60 percent of the Chicago region’s tree canopy, while today only 5 percent of the region’s trees are oaks. From 1939 to 2011 Kane County lost 45 percent of its oaks!
The Chicago Region Trees Initiative, a coalition of environmentally-focused area organizations, is raising awareness of the beauty, utility, and needs of oak trees during Oak Awareness Month, with its OAKtober campaign. The campaign includes oak-focused events throughout the state, including oaks and wine tastings, oak woodland walks, oak woodland restoration camping events, and oak planting among others.
Oak trees are a keystone species, meaning they are trees that entire ecosystems depend on for survival and habitat. Acorns provide food for more than 100 species of wildlife, and an oak tree’s massive trunk and branches shelter countless species of birds and mammals. But they’re slow-growing trees that need space and lots of sunlight to grow and thrive, and in today’s landscape they’re being crowded out by competition from other faster-growing or invasive tree species, and urban development. As the oaks disappear, so does their ecosystem.
OAKtober, Oak Awareness Month, is intended to draw attention to the importance of oaks, and help residents, businesses and municipalities understand what they can do to help ensure oaks remain and thrive in our region.
Several events celebrating OAKtober have been taking place throughout Kane County. A list can be found on the Chicago Region Trees Initiative website. On Saturday, Oct. 17, Wasco Nursery & Garden Center is hosting a celebration including speakers from the Kane County Development Department, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Conservation Foundation and the St. Charles Park District.
12 OAK-tober Events in Our Area
- For many more, see the Chicago Region Trees Initiative website.
Kane County Forest Preserve District
October 14– From Acorn to Oak – This program is for homeschool groups and is part of our monthly “Homeschool Explorations” series. In “Oaktober” we will focus on the theme of oak regeneration – or, making new oak trees from old ones. Naturalists will lead the group on a hike, with educational activities along the trail. Meet under the big oaks by the shelter, on the west side of the preserve. All ages are welcome, but the activities are designed for ages 5 – 10. Wednesday, October 14, 10 – 11:30 a.m., Elburn Forest Preserve, 45W061 Route 38, Maple Park. Fee: $2/person. Registration required. Please call (630)444-3190 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 17– Mighty Oaks of Kane County – All ages are welcome on this family-friendly hike. During this guided walk, you’ll get “up close and personal” with some of our venerable oaks and learn how to identify different species. You’ll also find out what the Forest Preserve District of Kane County is doing to restore oak woodlands – and how you can help! Saturday, October 17, 1 – 2:30 p.m., Dick Young Forest Preserve, 31W115 Main Street, Batavia. To register for this free program, call 630-444-3190 or email email@example.com.
October 22– Kane County Forest Preserves’ Nature Tykes – In this program series geared for 3 year olds, children explore the natural world through a variety of activities. Our special October program is “Oh, Nuts!” There will be an oak tree story, crafts, and a short nature hike to our big bur oak trees by the nature center. A parent or caregiver must accompany each child. Thursday, October 22, 9:30 – 10:15 a.m., Creek Bend Nature Center, LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean Street, St. Charles. Fee: $5/child. Registration required. Please call (630) 444-3190 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 22– Kane County Forest Preserves’ Little Naturalists – This month’s program for 4 year olds will focus on our mighty oak trees. The children will learn about oaks through a craft, a story and a nature walk to the oak grove. (Note: This is a “drop-off” program; adults and siblings may enjoy the trails or wait in the nature center during program.) Thursday, October 22, 1 – 2 p.m., Creek Bend Nature Center, LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean Street, St. Charles. Fee: $5/child. Registration required. Please call (630) 444-3190 or e-mail email@example.com.
October 25– Kane County Big Tree Program – What’s the biggest tree in Kane County? Where is the largest oak tree? Do you have a huge tree in your neighborhood? You can help discover and document “giant trees” by participating in the Kane County Big Tree Program. Learn about the program and how you can get involved by attending this workshop. We’ll begin with classroom instruction, and then head outdoors to learn how to identify and measure trees. You’ll also learn how to nominate trees for champion Big Tree status. The Kane County Big Tree Program follows the protocols of The Illinois Big Tree Registry. This state-wide program encourages citizens to appreciate, record and report the largest native trees. Sunday, October 25, 1 – 4 p.m., Creek Bend Nature Center, LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean Street, St. Charles. Registration required. Please call (630) 444-3190 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
8th International Oak Society Conference
October 18– Saving Trees from Extinction: 8th International Oak Society Conference Keynote Address. Sara Oldfield, co-chair of the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group and former secretary general of BGCI. Welcome Reception 6:00-7:00 p.m., Keynote 7:00-8:30 p.m. Hyatt Lisle, 1400 Corporetum Drive, Lisle, Illinois 60532. Open to the public. $20 Registration. For more information or to register, click mortonarb.org/ios2015, call 630-719-2468 (M-F, 9 am – 4 pm), or email Registraremail@example.com.
Chicago Botanic Garden
Throughout October An October Fall-Color Tree Walk at the Chicago Botanic Garden
October 14– Tree Walk: Midwest Collection. Explore The Morton Arboretum’s collection of trees native to the Midwest. Learn more about the assemblage of noteworthy trees and shrubs: from pin oak (Quercus palustris), to black tupelo or black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), to Kentucky viburnum or arrowwood (Viburnum molle). Look for great fall colors of scarlet and purple and spy wildlife feeding on black-blue fruit during our outdoor hike. 3:00-4:00 p.m. The Morton Arboretum, Parking Lot 8, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL 60532, $8 members, $10 nonmembers. For more information or to register: mortonarb.org/courses/tree-walk-midwest-collection, call 630-719-2468 (M-F, 9 am – 4 pm), or email Registrarfirstname.lastname@example.org.
October 18 through 21, 2015- 8th International Oak Society Conference. Experts on the science, lore, and conservation of oaks will come from around the world to speak when the International Oak Society holds its triennial conference at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. The full schedule and registration are now available at mortonarb.org/ios2015. The lineup includes experts from France, the United Kingdom, China, Mexico, and the United States presenting research results and other information for those who study, care for and appreciate these beautiful and significant trees. More than 400 species of oaks play a crucial role in ecosystems around the globe. Only a few seats remain – register today! For more information or to register, call 630-719-2468 (M-F, 9 am – 4 pm), or email Registraremail@example.com.
October 21– Tree Walk: Trees of the Prairie at The Morton Arboretum. Learn how oaks, walnuts, maples and dogwoods survive and thrive on the forest edge of the prairie at The Morton Arboretum. 3:00-4:00 p.m.
October 22, 24, 29– Photographing Trees: Oaks, Maples, and More – Get your cameras ready! Take artistic advantage of the challenges and opportunities the brilliant colors of the autumn canopy present, and learn to capture different fall tree structures and features accurately in your photographs. 2 Thursdays, October 22-29, 2015, 6:30-9:30 p.m., and Saturday, October 24, 2015, 8:00-11:00 a.m., Thornhill Education Center at The Morton Arboretum. $105.00 members, $123.00 nonmembers
October 24– Tree Walk: Trees of the Prairie at The Morton Arboretum. Learn how oaks, walnuts, maples and dogwoods survive and thrive on the forest edge of the prairie at The Morton Arboretum. 1:00-2:00 p.m.