2012 Land Trust of the Year

This year we’re thrilled to recognize one of our most unique lands trusts as our 2012 Land Trust of the Year, the River Revitalization Foundation (RRF).  RRF stands out among its Wisconsin cohorts as one of the few land trusts in the state that works solely to protect urban lands.  Working within the City of Milwaukee, RRF prioritizes the protection of the land bordering the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers to create a parkway for recreation and education, to revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods, and to improve water quality.

Since its founding in 1994, RRF has protected 16 acres in Milwaukee.  This may seem like small change, but it comes with a steep price tag.  Land prices in urban Milwaukee are among the highest in the state, and the parcels are among the smallest, but bring great value to the people living nearby.  But these challenges haven’t slowed RRF’s progress or dampened their commitment.

In fact, these challenges have pushed RRF to become incredibly adept at creating successful partnerships to benefit the community.  By working with stakeholders like local agencies and community youth groups, RRF is illustrating the synergies that exist between land conservation and urban development.

This year, RRF closed on one of its most ambitious projects to date.  Just last month RRF secured a $1.6 million land donation from the estate of the late Pieter Y. Godfrey. This 4.5 acre parcel, adjacent to Riverside Park along the Milwaukee River, is a critical piece of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.  The River Revitalization Foundation, with the Urban Ecology Center, is a partner in the creation of the first urban arboretum of its kind in Milwaukee. The land gift will serve as a match for additional acquisitions in the river valley within the Milwaukee River Greenway.

Before and after image of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum

This is just one example of the creative and inspiring work being done by this land trust in an unconventional, and often overlooked, environment.  We’re honored to bring to them the recognition that they deserve and hope you’ll join us in thanking them for the positive impact they’re having on Milwaukee’s landscape.

Please join us on October 4 at the Monona Terrace in Madison when we recognize the River Revitalization Foundation and the other winners of Gathering Waters Conservancy’s Land Conservation Leadership Awards.