Laona Heights Sugar River Colored Sands Sugar River Two Rivers Ferguson Hartley Memorial Trask Bridge Four Lakes Pecatonica River Pecatonica Wetlands Crooked River Grove Creek Seward Bluffs Klehm Forest Preserve Severson Dells Fuller Memorial Cedar Cliff Indian Hill Hinchliff Memorial Kilbuck Bluffs Trailside Kishwaukee Gorge South Kishwaukee Gorge North Rockford Rotary Kishwaukee River Oak Ridge Blackhawk Springs Deer Run Espenscheid Memorial McKiski County Line Kieselburg Roland Olson Stone Bridge Clayton Andrews Ledges Hononegah J. Norman Jensen Millrace Isle Macktown Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve Headquarters


WCFPD Welcomes New Executive Director

Michael Holan took the helm of WCFPD, as Executive Director, in April, 2013. Holan  replaces retiring Executive Director, Tom Kalousek who led the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District from 1999 to 2012.

Holan brings over thirty years of professional experience in forest preserve districts. He has most recently served as the Director of Operations and Maintenance at the Kane County Forest Preserve District, a position he has held since 2003. Previously, he was employed for twenty-one years at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County where he began as a seasonal employee, advanced through various positions, and ultimately served as the West Section Operations Supervisor whereby he managed approximately 14,500 acres. Holan’s educational qualifications include a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Southern Illinois University with major focus in wildlife management, and minors in botany and chemistry.

Holan says the opportunity to continue and build upon Winnebago County Forest Preserve District’s valuable legacy attracted him to the leadership role with the 90-year old organization. Holan says, “I would like to focus on leading WCFPD in carrying out their mission to provide public access to natural lands for recreation and education and to promote District involvement in Winnebago County communities and encourage the communities’ involvement in the WCFPD.” Further, he will “make a determined effort to secure funds to allow WCFPD to acquire and preserve additional high quality natural lands for the benefit of current and future generations of Winnebago County citizens.”

Campgrounds Provide Relaxing and Convenient Get-away!


You don’t have to travel far from home to enjoy camping in picturesque and unspoiled areas.  The Winnebago County Forest Preserve District has four campgrounds which provide running water, electrical hookups, and restrooms. The electrical service at Pecatonica River camp ground has been temporarily shut down for repair assessment. Playgrounds, fishing, ball fields and hiking trails are found nearby.  If you like to really get back to nature, primitive camping is available at Sugar River Forest Preserve.  Sugar River also offers shower facilities. Campground hosts are on site to facilitate your visit during the summer season. A self-registration process is now in place for when hosts are not present. Fees $10- $12 per night. For more information visit or call (815) 877-6100 for a free camping brochure and map.


Don't Miss These Spring Events


Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Garden Fair

Friday, June 7th – Sunday, June 9th

Klehm Arboretum and BMO Harris Bank are pleased to present the 20th annual Garden Fair. For two decades, Garden Fair has proven to be the place to shop for flowers, shrubs, tools, outdoor art and other garden–related items. The event is expected to attract more than 5,000 visitors. With over 80 exhibitors it’s the area’s largest outdoor living marketplace, there’s something for everyone. Tickets are good for admission all 3 days. Advanced Tickets $5 | Admission $8 at the door. Klehm members are FREE when they show their membership card.


Love Your River festival

Saturday, June 8

11:00 am – 3:00pm

Espenscheid Forest Preserve

4800 Perryville Rd., Cherry valley, IL 61016

The public is invited to Espenscheid Forest Preserve, on the banks of the Kishwaukee River in Cherry Valley, IL, Love Your River Day is sponsored by Friends of the Kishwaukee River and the WCFPD. The festival will feature a Loot for Litter river clean-up, prize drawings, giveaways, river safety demonstrations, wildlife exhibits, environmental education activities and free four-color Kishwaukee River wildlife posters. Admission is free.


Macktown Living History

Woodland Vessel-making Class

Macktown Historic Site, Macktown Forest Preserve

9:30 am – noon on Tuesdays, June 25, July 2 & July 9

Join us in our Native American village for a 3-day Woodland Indian vessel-making class.  You will make a clay effigy pot and decorate a gourd vessel lined with beeswax.  9:30 am – noon on Tuesdays, June 25, July 2 & July 9 (one week drying time needed between sessions.)  $55, no credit cards please.  All materials included and tools provided (or bring your own.)  Class size limited.Call 815-624-4200 or email

Discover our Local Rivers and Natural Areas! Register Now!



A River Gathering, June 20-22, 2013 to celebrate the ecology, beauty, and recreation of our region’s greatest natural assets.

The Four Rivers Environmental Coalition and Rock Valley College are hosting a three-day festival to celebrate the ecological, recreational, cultural and aesthetic value of the rivers in our region and to offer ways in which people can work to preserve them as resources and places of inspiration.


Learn about, explore and celebrate the wetlands, rivers, trails and woods and all that make their homes in north western Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Here is your chance to visit some of the Midwest’s highest quality and culturally significant rivers and surrounding habitat. Join your neighbors and visitors, bring your back packs and be ready for three full days of guided tours, hands-on workshops, wonderful people, distinctive art and music, and beautiful rivers.


Opening night reception with key note, author Brian Doyle, will be at Cliffbreakers Resort. Rock Valley College Stenstrom Center will be River Gathering headquarters for presentations and exhibitor/vendor booths, and workshops. Field trips, clinics, demonstrations and performances held at various sites on the Rock, Kishwaukee, Sugar and Pecatonica Rivers. This event is family-friendly and children’s entertainment and activities will be geared for children age 4+. Only $25 to register. A River Gathering schedule and registration now available at



Species Spotlight: Yellow-billed Cuckoo


Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a Jay-sized,  slender, long-tailed bird, brown above and white below, with large white spots on underside of tail and a flash of rufous in wings. Bill slightly curved, with yellow lower mandible. This bird’s tendency to utter its distinctive call at the approach of a storm has earned it the name “Rain Crow.” Both the Yellow-billed and Black-billed cuckoos are fond of hairy caterpillars, and during outbreaks of tent caterpillars are valuable in helping to keep these creatures in check. Yellow-billed cuckoos are common in Winnebago County and can be seen in Sugar River, Colored Sands, and Pecatonica River Forest Preserves.

Preserve Profile: Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden

by Alyssa Baggio, Alexandria Peacock, Tiffany Price


Spring is a wonderful season to visit Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden because everything is just beginning to bloom. The trees are coming out if their dormancy and the flowers are finally revealing their petals. The forest preserve has different types of trails for people to choose from. Some are paved and in the open while others paths are dirt and in wooded areas. The people who work at the Visitor’s Center are friendly and informative. There are picnic tables offered if people want to have a picnic on the patio.


A luscious garden to walk upon, Klehm Arboretum has a variety of plants, trees, and bushes that give the garden its practically unparalleled beauty, especially in the summer when the plants are all in full bloom.  It also has many trails that showcase the different and diverse plant life that inhabits the garden and allows for the exploration of these plants.


The East Loop is one of the easiest trails to walk at the preserve. It has a paved road to walk on and is a very short distance. It is not uphill and the flowers and trees do not impede the walk. The natural elements are a distance from the path on either side. Wooden benches are set on the side of the path for people to sit. The benches are labeled with small plaques in memory of people or groups of people. Picturesque stone benches are also offered for people to use at intervals along the path. In this particular part of the forest preserve, beautiful Maple trees can be seen. These Maples are interesting because they are small, but host large, pointed leaves. Most of the trees along the trail have plaques on them depicting what type of tree it is. While different types of trees and flowers can be seen, there are pretty little glades interspersed among the trees. Vibrant, green grass decorates the landscape. If people are more interested in gardens than trees, they can see the Hosta Garden, Peony Garden, Rhododendron and Azalea Garden, Wildflower Garden, Grasses Garden, Prehistoric Garden, and five Demonstration Gardens. The flowers are wonderful colors and come in different shapes and sizes.


The Woodland Wildflower Trail is located on the East Loop of the preserve. It is not a long walk. It has a dirt road that but is not difficult for people to travel. It is not uphill, and foliage crowds the path. When walking this particular trail, you feel immersed in nature. On this specific trail, Umbrella Magnolia trees can be seen. These amazing trees can grow up to 15 meters tall. The petals are 15 to 25 centimeters in diameter. The Umbrella Magnolia is just one magnificent tree that can be viewed.


The Pine Trail started in the farther parts of the gardens and had many great sights to see despite the fact that the trees and plants were not completely in bloom yet.  For example, while walking along the trail, there were altered conifers, which displayed unusual characteristics in growth, such as the tree growing on the side inside of upright.  Norway spruces lined different parts of the trail and were covered with some lovely pine cones which are said to be the inspiration for weights on grandfather clocks in Germany.  Along the way, there were European larches which are also conifers, but unlike other conifers, their leaves change color and drop in the autumn, which is a sight to see.  Other thick oak trees lined up the trail as well and even though they did not have their leaves, they were still breathtaking with their incredible heights and endless branches and tough bark.


Klehm is a wonderful place to spend the day, either with a family or for some quiet time alone.