In 2001, The Conservation Fund and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) launched a pioneering flood management program, GreenseamsSM. Greenseams purchases land and conservation easements from willing landowners in the Milwaukee, Menomonee, Oak Creek and Root River watersheds, where major suburban growth is expected to occur. Properties are chosen for their proximity to water, their water-absorbing soils, environmental corridor and natural area designations and their connection to public spaces.
Our AccomplishmentsSince the program’s inception, we have completed 99 projects, protecting a total of nearly 3,057 acres of flood-prone land within greater Milwaukee. This area includes 28 communities and 1.1 million people.
Most recently, Greenseams purchased 138 acres on Lake Twelve in the North Branch Milwaukee River. MMSD bought the land and will transfer ownership in a few years to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as part of the their North Branch Milwaukee River Wildlife and Farming Heritage Area. The property permanently protects nearly 116 acres of forested and emergent wetlands, and approximately 2,100 feet of Lake Twelve shoreline.
A partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners in Wildlife, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the North American Conservation Wetlands Act is also helping restore many of the Greenseams properties to their native wetland, prairie and forest habitats. By the end of 2013, 100,000 trees had been planted on 500 acres that were previously agricultural lands. Once fully restored, these properties will absorb more rain and snow melt, which slows water flow into the City of Milwaukee, and will also act as buffers, filtering out pollutants and increasing water quality.
Why This Project Matters
Back to back storms in 1997 and 1998 resulted in millions of dollars in property damage throughout the region. The Greenseams program is making sure that kind of devastation doesn’t happen again. By protecting and restoring wetlands – nature’s sponges – we are creating an area that can hold an estimated 1.3 billion gallons of water – about 1,970 Olympic-sized swimming pools. And with all the Greenseams properties open to the public, we are providing residents and visitors with the experience of being outdoors in natural settings, creating a sense of community and improving public health and happiness.