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For thousands of years, the 1200-acre Menomonee River Valley was a wild rice marsh, home to Native Americans. By the mid-1800s, the settlement of Milwaukee pushed toward the Valley, and Milwaukeeans filled the marsh with soil, gravel, and waste to create dry land for additional development.
As the city grew, a series of canals including the Burnham Canal was created to allow ships sailing the Great Lakes access to Milwaukee industry. Industries dumped their waste into many of these canals. Although this no longer occurs, they left behind soil and sediment contamination requiring clean-up. Now the southernmost of those canals, Burnham Canal, located between N. 16th St. and S. 8th St. on the Menomonee River, will be revitalized and restored to a natural wetland.
The Burnham Canal is undergoing a multi-step process that includes creating a wetland base with clean gravel and sand, and later adding soil and wetland plants on top. Ultimately, MMSD will turn Burnham Canal into 6.7 acres of wetland.
This project is part of a larger initiative to restore the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern (AOC). Learn more about the AOC by watching this John Gurda video or visiting the Waterway Restoration Partnership website.
Sign Up for Milwaukee Estuary AOC Email Updates
Burnham AR Phase I – Renderings don’t reflect a final design. We will be looking for more input on the design in the future.
Burnham AR Phase II – Renderings don’t reflect a final design. We will be looking for more input on the design in the future.
1872 Burnham Canal Circled
Learn about the Milwaukee Estuary AOC and MMSD projects.
Learn about MMSD's Lincoln Park Oxbow & Estabrook Falls Milwaukee River Habitat Enhancement project.
Learn about MMSD's Dredged Materials Management Facility project.