Chad Pregracke’s crew starts tornado restoration project along I-80; largest land restoration in recent Illinois history

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

EAST MOLINE-- The coach assembles his players and draws up a plan.

"Today we're kicking off our I-80 restoration project," says Living Lands & Waters founder Chad Pregracke.

The name of the game is clean up from a tornado that hit the East Moline area off of I-80 and Route 84 back in March 2016.

"We are basically going to be clearing about 100 trees," says Pregracke.

Living Lands & Waters (LL&W)  is heading the project with permission from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

More than 1,000 volunteers over the next few years will clean up 28 acres of land the storm destroyed. It left trees buckling over and remnants of nearby homes scattered on both sides of the Interstate. It's the largest land restoration project in recent Illinois history.

Phase one started on Friday, February 24, 2017 with local arborists cutting trees, limbs and brush. Then a group of new volunteers will clear everything out. And then finally, the replanting will take place.

"Eventually this will be like wildflowers, more prairie grass. It will look a lot different, not thick with invasive species. It will look beautiful really," says Pregracke.

Pregracke is looking for additional volunteers to help financially sponsor or provide labor. For more information on how you can join the effort, contact Dan Breidenstein by email at

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.