Celebrating the Mill Creek Alliance on the Banks of the Mill Creek

Groundwork Cincinnati-Mill Creek and the Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities came together in a public ceremony to celebrate their merger and become the Mill Creek Alliance. The board chairs arrived by canoe along with staff and members of the Mill Creek Yacht Club. Groundwork's Pat O'Connor came up the creek and the Watershed Council's Steve Johns came down the creek, from their organizations' respective historic territories Thank you to all who came out to celebrate these two organizations and the new one that now has even greater capacity to impact change for the Mill Creek Watershed.

Announcing the Launch of the Mill Creek Alliance


For 24 years, Groundwork Cincinnati-Mill Creek has worked to promote the health of the Mill Creek, its watershed, and its communities. We're proud of our many accomplishments, evident from the thousands of youth who've taken part in our environmental education and green workforce development programs, the creation of the Mill Creek Greenway Trail, our engagement of the Mill Creek communities, as well as the return of fish and wildlife, improved flood control, and higher water quality. Yet, we know there's still much to be done. For nearly a year, we have explored the possibility of combining our efforts with an equally strong, like-minded organization. After extensive consideration, the boards of Groundwork Cincinnati and the Mill Creek Watershed Council have decided that the two nonprofits will merge. The new organization will be called the Mill Creek Alliance. Its mission will be to enhance the environment and quality of life in the Mill Creek Watershed.

Founded in 1995, the Mill Creek Watershed Council has forged an alliance of political jurisdictions, government agencies, business associations, industry, academia, environmental organizations, and recreation groups to work together on improving the watershed. In recent years, the Watershed Council has focused on stream restoration, stormwater management, water quality monitoring and watershed planning.

The combined organization will be able to speak as a single, strong, vibrant voice, giving us greater leverage in attracting local and national support. A merger makes sense operationally because of the complementary strengths of our two organizations. We are retaining all staff members and all programs because we see no major overlap between the two organizations.

Merger at a Glance contains more information. If you have additional questions, please let us know.

You’re Invited to a Celebration

We invite you to celebrate the next chapter in our history at a special event with the Watershed Council on the banks of the Mill Creek. Please join us on Friday, March 2 at 11 am at Salway Park, 4250 Spring Grove Ave. near Crawford Avenue in Cincinnati. Use the southernmost entrance for the Mill Creek Greenway-Salway Trailhead near the Old Timber Inn. Registration is encouraged but not required by calling the Groundwork office at 513-731-8400 or emailing dave@groundworkcincinnati.org.




Coming Together to Celebrate the Mill Creek's Revival

On Thursday, Nov 16th, friends of Groundwork Cincinnati gathered at the American Sign Museum to Celebrate the Mill Creek's Revival. The evening's program honored environmental pioneers Stan Hedeen, a founder of Groundwork Cincinnati and author of The Mill Creek: An Unnatural History of an Urban Stream, and Mike Fremont, a founder of both American Rivers and Groundwork Cincinnati. Current Groundwork executive director, Dave Schmitt, along with former executive directors of Groundwork and the Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities, Robin Corathers and Jen Eismeier, joined Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers, to strike the Mill Creek off 1997's list of most endangered rivers. Guests enjoyed wonderful food from Sleepy Bee and the boogie woogie stylings of Ricky Nye. Donations made at the event will allow Groundwork to purchase a used truck to transport supplies for restoration projects, such as invasive species removal along the Mill Creek Greenway Trail. Groundwork Cincinnati would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all who attended, purchased tickets, donated, and sponsored the event and  to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen. There would be no celebration without you!


Groundwork Green Team visits Glacier National Park

The Groundwork Cincinnati Green Team recently returned from a work service trip to Glacier National Park sponsored by Groundwork USA and the National Park Service. While there the youth worked alongside the Groundwork Indianapolis and Groundwork Milwaukee teams. 

Their work while in the park was focused in two areas. The first was historic preservation of some of the park's iconic cabins and maintenance of their seasonal worker dormitories. The second was the removal of invasive plants from which the park is under threat. Both of these focus areas put to use some of the many skills the youth have gained while working for their Groundwork trusts throughout the summer.

While at Glacier, the participants were able to experience the park in all its grandeur. They hiked the iconic Highline Trail, crossed over the continental divide at Logan Pass, drove the Going-to-the-Sun Road, kayaked on Lake McDonald, went whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork Flathead River, participated in guided star gazing, and learned about the ecosystems of the park.

These experiences helped solidify the youths' appreciation and passion for the natural world while also putting into perspective the work that they are carrying out along the Mill Creek. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (some participants had never been on a plane before and the park will be glacier-free by 2030) that reinforced how important natural spaces are in urban environment.  

Save the Date! November 16th, 2017 to celebrate the Mill Creek's Revival 

Black Crowned Night Heron

Groundwork Cincinnati invites you to join us to celebrate the Mill Creek. Twenty years ago, American Rivers (the leading river conservation group in the US) declared Cincinnati's Mill Creek the most endangered urban river in the country.

On Thursday, November 16, 2017, 6:00-10:00, we want to recognize the 20 years of commitment and efforts to revive the Mil Creek. This has been pioneering work made possible by you and many others in our community. And we have an environmental milestone to celebrate!

American Rivers' President Bob Irvin will join us. He is going to officially strike the Mill Creek from the endangered river list! During this momentous occasion, we will also be honoring Cincinnati's Mike Freemont and Stanley Hedeen, founders of both the Groundwork Cincinnati legacy and American Rivers.

Please mark you calendar to hold this date. Join us for a great party about good environmental news, with drinks, food, and cheer. We hope to see you there! 

Welcome David Schmitt!

The search is over! Groundwork Cincinnati and the Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities have hired a new joint Executive Director! David has years of experience in ecological remediation and conservation and a broad understanding of local and national environmental laws and regulations. All that knowledge, paired with his experience with non-profit work, will be invaluable in leading our organizations over the next several years. 

See the full press release here!

Bike trail spotlight in Cincinnati City Beat

City Beat recently published an article detailing how useful bike trails are to communities across Cincinnati! The Mill Creek Greenway Trail is a vital part of this trail system. Bike trails provide safeways for travel for people who do not drive and helps community members stay active! Read more about the Mill Creek Greenway Trail and all the other bike trails involved in the proposed 42-mile Cincinnati Connects trail loop here!

Introducing: a Northside Fruit Park

There's no shortage of edible fruits growing on native trees and shrubs all over Northside! Local sustainability advocate and professor at the University of Cincinnati, Alan Wight, took the time to map out the locations of all of the edible fruits in Northside, including our very own Freedom Tree Edible Forest Garden. Check out the map below to find some near you! If you have any questions or are interested in owning your own 2 x 3 poster print, contact Alan at wightra@ucmail.uc.edu. 

Northside Fruit Park.jpg

Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities

Groundwork Cincinnati-Mill Creek is pleased to welcome a new relationship with our sister organization, the Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities. Our complementary missions empower us to coordinate and leverage our efforts to better serve the diverse needs of urban and suburban Mill Creek stakeholders. Watch this space for future collaborative and joint efforts and check them out here!

Spring Break at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

Over spring break six of the Green Team youth traveled with Groundwork staff members to Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge! This protected area in Indiana is known for being a haven for a variety of animals- some that stay year-round and some that are just passing through during their long migration. During our stay, we planted over 1,000 prairie grass plugs at a prescribed burn site, helped build a footbridge on the Turkey Trail, paddled around one of their many marshes, and did all the bird watching we could handle! We are excited to work with this refuge in the future!

The Green Team Goes to Texas!

The Green Team spent the past weekend at the Lone Star Trail Building School in Dallas, Texas. They learned several important skills needed to construct multi-use trails, including how to design trail systems and how to use an inclinometer to map out trails and prevent erosion. They also got to work with members of Green Teams from several other Groundwork Trusts from across the country! Stay tuned to see how they implement the knowledge gained from this program on our own trails here in the Mill Creek watershed!

Introducing: The Groundwork Cincinnati 2017 Green Team!

This new and exciting program will help prepare local youth to enter the workforce! The 5 individuals will spend 6 weeks learning vital skills and earning certificates that will be crucial in applying for careers in the green industry. They will be travelling to Dallas this weekend to attend the Lone Star Trail Building School. Stay tuned for updates about their progress, including future collaborations!

Groundwork teams up with the National Park Service & REI

The REI Foundation announced this week a $1 million investment in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. The initiative, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Interior and National Park Service, is aimed at connecting inner city youth and veterans to national parks. Locally, Groundwork Cincinnati will receive funding and outdoor equipment from REI to support its year-round Green Team youth programs.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said "Thanks to REI's generosity, we're putting young people and returning veterans to work restoring and protecting our nation's land, water and wildlife while creating a connection to nature and public lands that can last a lifetime." The REI program will support conservation and restoration projects in local communities and in a national park, combining community service, outdoor recreation and leadership development, Jewell said.

Tanner Yess, Groundwork Cincinnati’s Green Jobs Site Manager, said that the REI Foundation will underwrite a canoe/kayak based recreation and service-learning trip this summer for fourteen Green Team youth to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Tennessee and Kentucky.  The summer employment program is co-sponsored by Easter Seals Tri-State and the City of Cincinnati’s Youth 2 Work program.The REI equipment, including kayaks, paddles, life vests, camping supplies, and a trailer to transport the gear, will also be used in Cincinnati for work by Groundwork staff, with up to one thousand Blue Team youth each year participating in the nonprofit’s environmental education and training programs.

Groundwork Cincinnati/Mill Creek is one of 22 Groundwork Trusts across the country focused on youth, economically distressed communities, urban waters, trails, and transformation of derelict properties. The nonprofit’s work is centered in the Lower Mill Creek watershed in the City of Cincinnati.

To date, Groundwork Cincinnati has engaged over 39,000 students in hands on environmental education activities, completed 35 ecological restoration projects in the Mill Creek corridor, planted thousands of trees and five edible forest gardens, built and collaborated on construction of five miles of the City’s Mill Creek Greenway Trail, and transformed five miles of blighted properties into public greenspace, trails, and gardens. Its national partners include Groundwork USA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service.

The REI Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by Recreational Equipment, Inc. in 1993. The Foundation's mission is to help ensure that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America. REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 6 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service.

Cincinnati Connects


Groundwork Cincinnati-Mill Creek is honored to have served as project manager for Cincinnati Connects. The plan was made possible with support from Interact for Health and technical work by Human Nature, Inc., AECOM Cincinnati, Kolar Design, and the UC Economics Center. The project's steering committee included representatives from the City Of Cincinnati Government, OKI Regional Council of Governments, Cincinnati Parks, Great Parks of Hamilton County, Tri-State Trails, Green Umbrella, Little Duck Creek Trail, Ohio River Trail West, Wasson Way Project, Ohio River Trail - Oasis, and Queen City Bike. Please see the poster and download the report below:

Cincinnati Connects Report Part 1

Cincinnati Connects Report Part 2

Economics Center benefit/cost report (appendix b)