Conservation at Great Rivers Greenway

To sustain our region, we must protect and enhance our natural resources and the watersheds that surround them.

What is a watershed?
A watershed is all of the land that drains to a particular stream, river, or lake.

When watersheds are healthy and functioning well, they recycle nutrients, absorb and filter rain water, recharge rivers and streams, provide clean air, water, food and habitat for animals and people and much more. All of us rely on and benefit from the goods and services these ecosystems provide.

Healthy habitats and watersheds are a win for all!


  • 1 in 3 bites of food depends on bees for pollination.
  • We need clean air and water, plus natural materials for shelter and goods.
  • Communities need places to be active and connect to nature and each other.


  • Plants and animals need clean air and water, food, shelter and a place to hang out, too!
  • Ecosystems with a variety of plant and animal species (called biodiversity) are healthier, stronger and more resilient to negative impacts from people, climate change and other challenges.


  • By keeping floodplains (the area near waterways) for open space or greenways rather than buildings, we avoid expensive and dangerous flood damage.
  • People want a vibrant place to live, work and play – healthy watersheds and green space create just that!

We do our part to improve quality of life for all by creating and restoring healthy habitats and engaging people to take care of our region’s watersheds in three ways:


  • Greenways in the right spots
  • Add pollinator habitats
  • Support regional watershed planning efforts
  • Stormwater management techniques such as rain gardens


  • Partner programs that restore habitat by replacing plants that don’t belong with native grasses, shrubs and trees that are meant to grow there
  • Partner trainings, land management
  • Trash pickup and debris removal from storms or floods


  • Corporate, school or civic groups of volunteers work on restoring habitats
  • Partner events and cleanups get the whole community out to help
  • Educational outreach to show people why taking care of watersheds benefits them directly

Benefits and outcomes of our conservation efforts:

Improved Water Quality
Clean water is important to both wildlife and people. It’s the lifeblood for every ecosystem and is essential for healthy watersheds. Great Rivers Greenway supports several regional watershed planning efforts with local partners to develop comprehensive approaches to improve water quality for everyone.

Improved quality of life for wildlife and people
Healthy native habitats and watersheds contribute to biodiversity and a variety of ecosystem services that benefit people. Our quality of life improves when we have clean air and water, an abundance of uncontaminated food sources, raw materials for clothes and shelter, and accessible greenspace.

Restored Habitats
Native habitats include plants and animals that have been interacting together in the same place for a long time without human intervention. The plants in these habitats provide essential food and shelter for native animals to survive. Plus, they are low-maintenance because they are meant to thrive there.  These plants also support butterflies and bees, which pollinate our food crops.

Long-term stewardship of the greenways
The more people that know about the importance of habitats and watersheds, the more people that will care for them long-term. By getting volunteers involved, we are creating life-long conservation champions throughout the region that will help sustain the native ecology around the greenways.

Get out and Give Back!

Great Rivers Greenway partners with local organizations to offer volunteer opportunities throughout the region to restore and beautify the greenways.

For already-scheduled events you can plug into, browse our calendar for an upcoming service project near you. Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions or want to collaborate on a volunteer event to take care of the greenways.

Click to stay connected and be informed about volunteer opportunities!

Conservation Videos from Great Rivers Greenway: