SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is giving out 5,000 seedlings to schools in Illinois this week in honor of Earth Day on April 22.
The “Trees to Schools” initiative helps offset the loss of trees removed by construction and maintenance activities. Each of the nine IDOT highway districts, including the one in Carbondale, is receiving 550 trees to distribute to local schools. Participating schools can choose to plant the trees on their grounds or give them to students to take home and use to learn more about the importance of trees to the environment.
One tree can produce as much oxygen in a single season as 10 humans consume in one year. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide and release oxygen in return. Trees also reduce erosion, filter chemicals, produce shade and provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.
The trees were provided for free to IDOT as part of Living Lands & Waters Million Trees Project. Varieties included red oak, swamp white oak, bur oak and redbud. Since 2009, IDOT has distributed approximately 50,000 seedlings.