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 Accomplishments

Since the program’s inception, we have protected 104 properties preserving 3,383 acres of flood-prone land within greater Milwaukee. This area includes 28 communities and 1.1 million people.

The latest project, the program’s 100th, 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.

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 2015, 102,862 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.

Learn More

2016 Greenseams Annual Report
Article: "Could Milwaukee Be A Green Destination?" Milwaukee Magazine 
Press Release

Greenseams photo gallery

Greenseams: Green Infrastructure In Milwaukee, St. Nikolas 

Success Of Greenseams

This video—featuring the Fund's Peg Kohring—explains how this innovative program is on the cutting edge of the green infrastructure movement. Video produced by Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

What Is Green Infrastructure?

Do you know what green infrastructure is, really? Watch our video to find out what people think of green infrastructure and learn from the Fund's Will Allen exactly what we mean when we use the term. Video by The Conservation Fund.