Planting Mohr Trees


Watch now: ParkLands Foundation site near Lexington part of new Tree Corps initiative

Lenore Sobota

    Apr 5, 2021

Land steward Jason Shoemaker discusses the mission of the ParkLands Foundation and plans for the Mohr Tract. Lenore Sobota

LEXINGTON — Trees are sparse and spread out, except for the line of mature trees along the Mackinaw River, at the ParkLands Foundation Mohr Tract, but soon the site will have more than 5,000 new trees, thanks to the efforts of donors and volunteers.

The “Mohr Trees!” project is part of a larger, new initiative organized by the Ecology Action Center and called Tree Corps.

The goal of Tree Corps is to plant 10,000 trees a year for at least the next 10 years, explained EAC executive director Michael Brown.

Jason Shoemaker, land steward for the ParkLands Foundation, shows where trees will be planted at the Mohr Tract near Lexington as part of the Mohr Trees initiative. Lenore Sobota

“It is an exciting new initiative, part of our 50th anniversary and … an early step in a clean air program” that’s been in the planning stages for years, he said.

Trees aid in carbon sequestration, reducing greenhouse gases, said Brown. Planting more trees “is just one of many strategies” to improve the community’s air quality, he said.

With initiatives like this, Brown said, “what really makes them work is partnerships.”

The ParkLands Foundation is restoring former farmland on the Mohr Tract near Lexington to its natural state. Thousands of trees will be planted as part of that project. Lenore Sobota
In addition to the ParkLands Foundation, partners this year include the Friends of Constitution Trail, the McLean County Natural Resource Conservation Service and Living Lands and Waters. The latter is matching the trees that others are providing this year, enabling the EAC to reach its 10,000 tree goal.

In addition to trees at the Mohr Tract, trees in a slightly smaller number will be planted at the nearby Merwin Preserve and others will be planted by the Friends of Constitution Trail along the new trail extension near Shirley.

The Mackinaw River runs along the boundary of the ParkLands Foundation Mohr Tract. The foundation’s mission is to preserve and protect the river’s watershed. Lenore Sobota

The Mohr Tract is among 18 preserves the ParkLands Foundation maintains in McLean and Woodford counties.

Jason Shoemaker, the foundation’s land steward, said, “Our mission is to preserve and protect the land along the Mackinaw River watershed and return it to its natural state.”

For the Mohr Tract, that means restoring some of the woodlands that once covered the agricultural area along the Mackinaw River.

A turkey vulture soars over the ParkLands Foundation Mohr Tract near Lexington on Thursday. Lenore Sobota

More information about the preserves can be found at

Located along 2450 North Road in McLean County, roughly between the Merwin Preserve and the Lexington Preserve, the Mohr Tract has no developed trails and parking is limited along the road — be sure you are parked well off the road and not blocking any lanes.

A small hole on a gall shows where an insect emerged from a plant at the ParkLands Foundation’s Mohr Tract near Lexington. Lenore Sobota

Shoemaker said the public is free to roam and explore the 270-acre site.

Be mindful of neighboring private landowners and remember that dogs and bicycles are prohibited on ParkLands property.

Trees were planted on the property in 2009, but a drought that followed and competition from deer and other animals hindered the growth of many of those trees, said Shoemaker.

Plans call for planting more trees on this section of the ParkLands Foundation Mohr Tract, which was formerly agricultural land. Lenore Sobota

The planting at the Mohr Tract will be done by volunteers organized by the ParkLands Foundation, Grand Prairie Master Naturalists and Ecology Action Center. The two big days are April 10 and 11.

“You don’t have to do all of the above,” said Brown.