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.
“This is a proud moment at Riveredge,” said Riveredge Executive Director Jessica Jens. “This land, which was purchased through the generosity of many individuals and foundations and restored through decades of work from volunteers and staff, is now permanently protected forever. The wish of Riveredge’s founders and donors has been fulfilled and we can rest assured that this beautifully restored natural area will continue to add to the quality of life of our communities for generations to come.”
Partnership Between Riveredge and MMSD
MMSD and The Conservation Fund helped secure the permanent easement through the District’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.
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.
Riveredge Nature Center Today
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 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.