Work has begun to restore 15 acres of native oak woodland at Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden. This project, funded by a grant from the Dr. Courtney J. & Margaret Hutchins Hamlin Family Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, allows Klehm to begin the first step in a process that starts by removing the invasive woody species like honeysuckle and buckthorn. The removal of these invasive species is critical to allow enough filtered sunlight to the forest floor to allow the emergence of the ephemeral wildflowers and natural reproduction of the bur, white and red oak tree populations. Invasive species tend to crowd out native landscapes in the competition for sunlight, soil nutrients and moisture along with the ability to reproduce and spread when left unchecked.

“The ultimate goal of the restoration project is to provide an example of a typical oak forest community that is representative of the pre-settlement landscape of Winnebago County” said Dan Riggs, Executive Director at Klehm. Ultimately, the oak woodland restoration project, prairie restoration and the Vi Bates Wildflower Garden will be managed as a unit to emulate the prairie > oak savanna > oak woodland transition that was the predominant landscape of the Great Plains, especially in those transition zones between the vast prairies and wooded fingers of the great river systems.

Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is Rockford’s living museum with hundreds of labeled specimens from around the world, open year round to explore, learn and enjoy.
The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) has been a regional leader in philanthropy since 1953. CFNIL serves as a catalyst for giving in order to attract, grow and preserve an endowment for the needs of Northern Illinois. Since 2000, CFNIL has granted more than $46 million for charitable purposes.

Please consider becoming a volunteer at Klehm to assist with the oak woodland restoration project or other rewarding volunteer opportunities.

This project was funded in part by a grant from the Dr. Courtney J. & Margaret Hutchins Hamlin Family Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.