Happy OAKtober!

October was officially proclaimed Oak Awareness Month in Illinois by Governor Bruce Rauner in 2015 through the amazing advocacy efforts of The Chicago Region Trees Initiative and its partners. The purpose of Oak Awareness Month is to raise awareness for the decline in the Oak tree canopy in Illinois and the importance of their role in our very fragile ecosystem.

OAKtober- Oak Awareness Month gives us the chance to celebrate Oaks native to Illinois. There are many communities in our area have OAKtober related events that you can participate in. Check out this list of OAKtober 2018 events to see what's happening near you.

OakTober

  • Plant native Oak trees such as White Oak, Swamp White Oak, Bur Oak, Shingle Oak or Chinkapin Oak & choose a nice sunny location so that they can thrive!
  • If you have an existing Oak or a newly planted Oak in your yard be sure to adequately water and mulch your tree.
  • Take a hike in an Oak woodland and be sure to take in all the different wildlife and plants— be on the lookout for birds, tree frogs, mice and squirrels, caterpillars and butterflies, lichen, mushrooms just to name a few of the many species that utilize Oaks.
  • Help remove invasive species in our region to help let the sunshine in for Oaks so that they can thrive.
  • Find the largest Oak in your community. Hug it, take your picture with it or even better share the picture on social media using #OAKtober to help raise awareness in your community.
  • Host an OAKtober tree planting ceremony at your workplace, school, with scouts, or even at your home! 

Why Oaks are Important in Illinois

White Oak is the Illinois State Tree and Oaks (Quercus) are the official tree genus of the United States of America. Oak trees and trees in general help to reduce flooding, clean our air and water. Oak trees specifically support more than 500 species of native wildlife and flowers including some rare and endangered species, more than most other trees but they are at risk in Illinois. As existing Oaks grow older, new Oaks are not taking root to help replace them on their own. Oaks once made up 60% of Chicagoland’s tree canopy and today only 5% of our trees are Oaks, according to The Chicago Region Trees Initiative. Replanting the Oak canopy is crucial in preserving our unique, diverse and beautiful Illinois ecosystem. Oaks represent strength, stature, beauty and are an important part of our American heritage. Protecting Oaks and planting new Oaks will assure a healthy and thriving ecosystem now and in the future.

SGN Oaks

Learn more about Oak Awareness Month and other OAKtober Awareness ideas by checking out the resources used for this blog post below.


Resources:

http://chicagorti.org/programs/oaktober-oak-awareness-month

http://www.mortonarb.org/oaktober-oak-awareness-month

http://content.yardmap.org/learn/life-in-an-oak/


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