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MMSD Green Luminary® Award | Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

03/12/20 09:00:am

Tour an outdoor classroom on Lake Michigan that can effectively manage millions of gallons of rain while doubling as a nature center with rare species. Green infrastructure abounds at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center just north of the City of Milwaukee. See what they’re doing to protect wildlife, habitat and or rivers and lakes.

At a location with a rich history reaching back to the early days of the Schlitz Brewery, the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a sanctuary offering people the opportunity to connect with nature.  Nonetheless, historical deforestation and heavy agricultural use of the land in the late 1800’s ultimately led to modern day issues with erosion and stormwater management. With the native vegetation removed, over time the land was no longer able to absorb water effectively.  Water flowing over the land sought the path of least resistance, forming a large ravine and carrying native, water-absorbing soil with it into Lake Michigan.

The Green Luminary Award-winning Stormwater Wetland & Ravine Restoration Project has restored valuable habitat, dramatically improved on-site stormwater management, and will help mitigate future erosion.  The multi-faceted project includes three constructed wetlands that, in conjunction with other elements, are designed to capture 100-year storm flows.  A 100-year storm means there is a one percent chance of a storm of that intensity occurring in any given year.

The project also incorporated Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance (RSC), an innovative technique that mimics natural stream flow, that will help stabilize the land, minimize future erosion, and increase stormwater detention capacity.  Other elements of the project included removal of invasive species and Emerald Ash Borer-infested trees,  and site restoration through planting of trees, shrubs, plugs, and native seed.  Together, the elements of this project will have the capacity to detain an average of over 7 million gallons per year.

Future work at the site will improve access throughout the project area.  By 2021, the goal for the site is to complete about half of what will be known as the Water Path Trail which will provide greatly enhanced access to the newly restored habitats.  The project was supported by a number of sources including significant support from Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

MMSD gives Green Luminary® awards to businesses, organizations, and communities that implement exceptional green infrastructure design projects in the MMSD service area that benefit our lakes and rivers, as well as our communities.


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Vital partners throughout the Greater Milwaukee community and beyond have rallied to support conservation by funding the Stormwater Wetland & Ravine Restoration project. To date, Schlitz Audubon has received grants and pledges of support for the project from Brico FundNational Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Green Infrastructure Partnership Program, Fund for Lake MichiganFreshwater FutureBrookby FoundationPentair Foundation, an anonymous corporate donor, and an anonymous private donor

Ways to Protect Lake Michigan: 

Fresh Coast Guardians Resource Center

Fresh Coast Guardians Resource Center

Are you a homeowner, organization or business looking for help on installing green infrastructure? Contact the Fresh Coast Guardians Resource Center to get started today.

Green Luminary® Recipients

A Green Luminary® helps protect our rivers and Lake Michigan by adopting practices that harvest rainfall for other uses, or mimic nature, by helping it soak into the ground to reduce water pollution. View previous Green Luminary® ​​​​​award winners from the MMSD service area.

milwaukee riverkeeper logo adopt a river


Looking for something to do as a team? Something that will bring you closer together, make a huge difference in your community, and only needs to be done twice per year? Consider adopting a section of the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers. Save the date for the 2020 Spring Cleanup on Saturday, April 18th, 2020