June 26, 2015
MILWAUKEE, Wis.—Nearly 15 years ago, The Conservation Fund and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) launched an innovative flood management program designed to improve the region’s resiliency and improve public green space access through strategic land conservation. Today, they celebrated the completion of the 100th project and the program’s success in protecting more than 3,100 acres of flood-prone land in 28 communities in greater Milwaukee.  

“Milwaukee and its Greenseams program have become a national model for cities looking to utilize green infrastructure to address storm water challenges in rapidly growing areas,” said Larry Selzer, President & CEO of The Conservation Fund. “This milestone is significant not only because of the results the program has produced that you can see—like 100 public green spaces that didn’t exist 15 years ago, as well as healthier waterways, forests and wildlife habitat—but also for those that are not visible, like reducing the risks to property damage and loss from flooding in developing communities.”

“From reducing the risk of future flooding to offering green space for hiking and watching wildlife, Greenseams® harnesses Mother Nature to counter the effects of fast growing areas near urban centers,” said Kevin Shafer, MMSD Executive Director.

The latest project was completed in partnership with Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT), which purchased a 155-acre property in the City of Mequon for $1.2 million. Greenseams provided $200,000 toward a conservation easement on more than 85 acres, protecting important hydric soils, wetlands, surface drainage and wooded natural areas. OWLT also received a $600,000 grant from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, Wisconsin’s land conservation account. The remaining funds came from several sources, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, private donors and the Milwaukee Audubon Society.

“It’s hard to believe nearly 15 years have passed, and the Greenseams Program has protected 100 properties,” said Program Director David Grusznski. “In the beginning, our initial purchases were disconnected and dispersed throughout the region.  Now, we can step back and see how corridors and conservation complexes have come together to create something meaningful that benefits more than benefiting more than 1.1 million people across the region. This is a testament to MMSD’s leadership and long term commitment to healthier watersheds in the Greater Milwaukee Region.”

Shawn Graff, Executive Director of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, said “The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) is delighted to partner with the MMSD Greenseams program to protect the Spirit Lake property in Mequon.  This acquisition boosts the land area that OWLT protects to over 6,000 acres.  This Spirit Lake protection effort truly represents great milestones, and OWLT is honored to partner with MMSD and Greenseams to protect this property.  We look forward to many more partnership opportunities to protect water quality and quantity in the Milwaukee River Watershed.” 

Similar to other partner projects between OWLT and Greenseams, the property will undergo a restoration process over the next few years which will include prairie plantings, reforestation, wetland restoration and trail development. The property will be open to the public for passive recreational enjoyment.

The 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.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states to protect more than 7.5 million acres of land since 1985.

Release Contact

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org