The Urban Ecology Center in partnership with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, the River Revitalization Foundation, Milwaukee County Parks, private businesses and local landowners are restoring 40 acres of land along the Milwaukee River as an arboretum of native species and improved wildlife habitat. With the creation of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum, we will be creating a highly biologically diverse urban habitat and a space for growing our future environmental stewards.
The Arboretum will be situated between the Milwaukee River and the Oakleaf Recreational Trail and stretch from North Avenue to Locust Street. This area will be planted with over 2,200 trees representing 72 species native to this area. The Arboretum’s location at the southern end of the Milwaukee River Greenway, the 800 acre green space that has been developed to provide and enhance public access to the Milwaukee River, makes the Arboretum a natural gateway to this valuable resource.
Well over 100,000 people are projected to visit the Arboretum annually. Some of the expected visitors include:
- 15,000 students and teachers per year from the 30 schools that partner with the Riverside Park branch of the Urban Ecology Center.
- 12 local institutions of higher education will use this site as a field research station.
- Travelers from all over the city and region.
- High school and college students training for careers in conservation.
- Let’s not forget the wildlife! Since important habitat will be created and restored, we're sure to have a variety of wild visitors.
The Arboretum will provide many benefits to the community, including:
- Increasing community access to natural space.
- Expanding the outdoor classroom used by Urban Ecology Center educators.
- Increasing opportunities for research.
- Educating the community on the importance of native species.
- Sequestering eight tons of carbon from the air each year.
- Providing seed stock of native species for the entire river valley.
- Improving water quality and reducing storm water runoff.
- Bringing our diverse community together during design, construction, planting, and use.
- Promoting an educated urban citizenry whose actions preserve and enhance our environment.
- Providing the opportunity to connect with a living legacy.
Who is involved
The Arboretum project would not be possible without the tremendous support of many groups and individuals, including:
- Rotary Club of Milwaukee
- Pieter Godfrey, a visionary and dearly missed friend and nearby land owner
- Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
- The River Revitalization Foundation
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- Milwaukee County Parks
- City of Milwaukee
- Milwaukee River Greenway Coalition
- Milwaukee Public Schools
- Local Colleges and Universities
- Milwaukee Area Workforce Youth Initiative
- Fund for Lake Michigan
- Local community members
The Urban Ecology Center and the River Revitalization Foundation are the lead organizations in developing the Arboretum.
The Arboretum will officially open on September 28, 2013.