Spotlight on the Good Works of the RCM Community Trust: River Revitalization Foundation

In September 2013, we told the story of the RCM Community Trust, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. In the coming months, we’ll use this space to highlight the good works around our community made possible by the Trust, which is funded solely by the donations of members.


The River Revitalization Foundation (RRF), Milwaukee’s urban rivers land trust, has a deep Rotary connection. RCM and Milwaukee Kiwanis co-founded RRF in 1994, and 5 of the 14 RRF Board seats are reserved for Rotarians. Today these seats are held by Margaret Crawford, Don Daugherty, Chris Jaekels, Sarah Kimball and Jack Lewis.


RRF’s major focus in recent years has been the purchase and restoration of the 2.8 acre former Wheelhouse site located along the Milwaukee River upstream from the old North Avenue dam. This site is just south of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum, part of the Milwaukee River Greenway.


Demolition of the former Wheelhouse in 2010. 

Through the RCM Environment & Ecology committee, the RCM Community Trust has supported the development of the former Wheelhouse parcel. In 2010, a $5,000 grant was awarded for the demolition of the Wheelhouse and its driveway. In 2011 and again in 2012, the RCM Community Trust donated $5,000 to help restore site through removal of invasive species, planting of native trees, path construction & maintenance.


This summer RRF was awarded two major grants for shoreline restoration along the Milwaukee River and estuary.  A $248,960 grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan will support stream bank and habitat restoration and fishing access along 600 feet of shoreline at the former Wheelhouse parcel; in addition, a $249,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Sustain Our Great Lakes program will allow for continuation of shoreline restoration along the adjacent 150 feet of shoreline.


“The investment of both local and federal funding to improve the riparian corridor in the most densely populated region of the state is a demonstration of the commitment to sustainability, water quality improvements and protection of our natural resources right here in Milwaukee”, says Kimberly Gleffe, Executive Director of the River Revitalization Foundation. Over three acres of urban greenspace will be improved for the people who enjoy recreating on the river and connecting with nature, and for the wildlife that depends on its habitat.