We’re asking residents to visit the sites of bearing trees and record information about remaining witness trees left in Illinois using an interactive map.
We’re looking for a special kind of tree: the historic trees that helped map the state of Illinois.
In the early 1800s, surveyors used “bearing trees,” which is commonly known as a type of witness tree, many of them oaks, as landmarks. We want to know: How many of these trees survived as witnesses to history? To help, all you need is a smartphone. You don’t need to know anything about trees or maps to become part of this living history project.
We’re asking Illinois residents to visit the sites of bearing trees on their property or on public property and record information about any remaining bearing trees. If there is no tree in that spot, what is there now? Look for witness trees near you!
Why do we want to find these trees?
Most of the bearing trees were oaks. Finding these old oaks (and other trees) is valuable to CRTI’s efforts to implement the Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan. Finding out what has replaced them is just as valuable.
You can glimpse history; imagine what the land and the tree was like in the early 1800s.
Please do not enter private property unless you have permission nor hike off maintained trails!
Surveyor field notebooks contain a wealth of information about what the landscape was like before European settlers arrived in the region.