A Decade of Growth: the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum

September 26, 2023

Riverside Park

Land Stewardship

Ten years ago, on September 28, 2013, the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum opened. Totaling 40 acres of restored land, the arboretum winds along the Milwaukee River and Oak Leaf trail expanding into Riverside Park.

With a generous lead gift from Milwaukee Rotarians, the dedication of partner organizations, and the support of our community, the last un-damned, but unfortunately degraded, stretch of the Milwaukee River was transformed into a thriving urban nature space loved by all Milwaukeans.

Countless hours of hard work - controlling invasive species, removing trash, planting native species, monitoring wildlife populations and so much more - has made the arboretum what it is today.

So we sing, “Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear Arboretum! Happy Birthday to you!”

Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum sculpture.

In celebration of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum, we asked our staff what their favorite thing about the Arboretum is:

Jeremy R: “The Closed Bottle Gentian”
Jodi H: “Nothing much compares to standing on the benches at the top of Coyote Hill with a bunch of young elementary-aged kiddos (or middle schoolers), throwing your head back, and giving your best Coyote howl! Also, super fun to talk about the ancient architecture of the arch and its strength!”
Chad T: “I love Coyote Hill in winter. You really get a sense of the Milwaukee River valley.”
Brynne D: “When all the Woolly Bears walk across the paths in late summer/fall. Kids LOVE them and touching and holding them.”
Amanda P: “The very obvious: being in the middle of a bustling city but feeling like you're fully immersed in nature. What a gift!”
Beautiful picture of Else's prairie with native flowers blooming in the summer time.
Chris S:  “There is frequently a community member with a recorder (musical instrument) sitting on the bench on the western slope of Coyote Hill playing really relaxing tunes.”
Regina M: “The overall beauty of the prairie flowers in late summer and fall.”

**Coyote Hill is what the UEC staff have nicknamed the hill that crests behind the stone arch.

We’re giving our best Coyote Howl to The Rotary Club of Milwaukee and everyone who made it possible to catch a sunset on the hill, discover the beauty of a native prairie, or meet a new friend (human or not) at the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.

Top photo of is of the Arboretum stone arch at sunset. Photo credit: Chris Winters

Past Employee
Guest Author

With a degree in Zoology and Environmental Studies, Michelle began her career as a zookeeper. An American badger remains her favorite animal - having raised one from a cub.

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