For the past 150 years tree diversity has declined along the shores of rivers, including in the state of Illinois. The Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio rivers were once home to a diverse collection of native fruit and nut-bearing trees that have been depleted for fuel and used as building materials. This has produced an abundance of similar tree species that have crowded out native trees, such as Oaks, Hickories, Hackberries, Mulberries, Pecan and Paw Paw trees.

The Million Trees Project seeks to correct this situation in Illinois by planting native hardwood trees along the shorelines of the state’s major waterways, plus within Illinois towns and cities. Living Lands & Waters is the organization heading up the Million Trees Project. The organization is collecting and planting native tree seeds at an Illinois nursery with the goal of growing one million trees in Illinois. The project started in 2007 and continues today.

The native trees planted promote environmental diversity which protects against severe disease threats and supports local wildlife habitats. The trees provide shade along water edges, which keeps the water cooler during hot weather and can reduce severe algae blooms. Plus, trees slow water run-off, preventing pollution from entering the rivers and creeks and managing storm water run-off.

The benefits to this project are numerous. Click here for more information.

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