Nearly 600 trees found a new home Saturday at the Schweitzer Woods Forest Preserve near West Dundee, thanks to a host of volunteers who came out for National Public Lands Day.
Seventy people spent the late morning and early afternoon planting seedlings and saplings that will later grow into Burr oak, red oak and hills oak trees.
In doing so, the public was returning trees to property that had been cleared of them and turned into farmland about 140 years ago, according to Drew Ullberg, director of natural resources for the Forest Preserve District of Kane County. The 600 trees are enough to fill that entire field, he added.
The district organized the event as part of National Public Lands Day, billed as the largest, one-day volunteer event for public lands. It has celebrated the day for the past 20 years by planting trees in select parts of Kane County during the latter part of September.
"It's an opportunity for the public to come out and help care for the public lands in a whole variety of means," Ullberg said.
Saturday, they included Marissa Foster of Carpentersville, who came with her three sons, Johnny, Gavin and Luke, and their friend Sam Borg, also of Carpentersville.
Johnny and Gavin are in West Dundee-based Cub Scout Pack 36.
But their participation Saturday had nothing to do with the possibility of earning merit badges, Marissa Foster said.
"It's for the community, and just the fact that it's outdoors for the kids, it's good for the Scouts," she said. "We're out here, we're having fun and we're helping the community."
It was important for her boys to get out of the house to learn and experience nature, she said.
For example, while there, Johnny got to hold a garter snake he found while he was planting the trees. He learned not to rub it across its belly and was surprised the snake wasn't slimy.
"It was actually pretty smooth," Johnny said.