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Riveredge Nature Center and MMSD Help Protect 287-acre Saukville property with Conservation Easement

11/13/20 08:00:am

Contact: Bill Graffin

MMSD Public Information Manager

(414) 225-2077


Contact: Ed Makowski

Riveredge Marketing & Communications Manager

(262)375-2715 x151

Riveredge Nature Center is proud to announce a conservation easement that permanently protects 287 acres of nature center property in Saukville, Wisconsin. The move, completed with assistance from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and The Conservation Fund, will ensure this land is always a natural habitat for plants and animals to flourish, for humans to learn and explore, and to reduce the risk of flooding. The 287 acres represent 75% of Riveredge Nature Center’s present acreage. 

Milwaukee River in Riveredge Nature Center

“I’m so appreciative of the partnership with MMSD and The Conservation Fund throughout this process,” said Jessica Jens, Riveredge Executive Director. “They’re accomplishing great work in helping landowners throughout the Milwaukee River to create a more robust and resilient habitat for all of us to enjoy. I’m proud that this easement ensures that this land will enjoy stronger conservation protections long after any of our time here. Our team is fortunate to add to the bountiful history of conservation at Riveredge.”

MMSD and The Conservation Fund helped secure the permanent easement through MMSD's Greenseams® program that is now protecting more than 4,000 acres. Greenseams® makes voluntary purchases (in this instance, none of the Riveredge acreage has changed hands) of undeveloped, privately owned properties in areas expected to have major growth in the next 20 years and open space along streams, shorelines, and wetlands. By storing and draining water into the ground naturally, Greenseams® helps prevent future flooding and water pollution while supporting and protecting MMSD's structural flood management projects.

children walking at Riveredge Nature Center

Students in class at the Riveredge Outdoor Learning Elementary School.

In 1965, women of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club (all Club members were women at that time) observed suburban sprawl beginning to replace natural habitat and began searching for a location where native Wisconsin plants and animals could continue to thrive in the region. Riveredge Nature Center opened in 1968 as the first non-profit nature center in the Milwaukee area with an initial 72-acre purchase along the Milwaukee River in Saukville. 

As neighboring farms, residential properties, and even a forest across the Milwaukee River became available for purchase, Riveredge gradually added to its acreage. When real estate has been added to the property, staff would assess the biological need most necessary in the region, and accordingly seed a native prairie, install a wetland habitat, plant a specific forested habitat to fill that niche. Included within the property is also a Wisconsin State Natural Area, Riveredge Creek. 

Today, Riveredge has grown to encompass 379 acres with 10 miles of trails. Riveredge has a staff of science educators who lead field trips and scout groups, teach the Homeschool Ed-Ventures curriculum, as well as host educational programs for every age. Building on the Riveredge mission, in the fall of 2019, The Riveredge Outdoor Learning Elementary School opened onsite as the first nature-based public charter elementary school in the region. 90 students returned for classes on Tuesday, September 1 2020. 

MMSD Flood Risk Reduction Efforts

Greenseams Flood Management MMSD


Greenseams® helps prevent future flooding and water pollution while supporting and protecting MMSD's structural flood management projects - infrastructure investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Greenseams® is an innovative flood management program that permanently protects key lands containing water absorbing soils.

farmfield for working soils

Working Soils®

The Working Soils® Program aims to permanently protect privately held working land in the Milwaukee River watershed floodplain. Healthy soils store rainwater, recharge groundwater, and reduce water pollution.

green roof on business

Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure captures, absorbs or stores rain and melting snow, taking on numerous shapes and sizes from 55-gallon rain barrels to trees and porous pavers for parking lots, driveways and sidewalks. You can see green roofs on buildings or bioswales along city streets.