What We Do

Our Vision:

River Bend Wildland Trust envisions the Quad Cities Area as a community that balances growth and development with preservation and restoration of natural areas, where improved quality of life is can be measured by excellent access to nature.

Our Mission:

The River Bend Wildland Trust protects and manages lands of significant natural value in the watersheds of the Mississippi and Rock River confluence, and provides ecological stewardship, education, and initiatives aimed at creating a more sustainable environment.

family walking on a nature trail

Do you want to live near a trail through nature?

River Bend Wildland Trust’s programs include four main categories:

parcel map of Milan Bottoms

Board adopted strategies are long term projects with ideals for acquisition, easement, and land use. Such plans take into account local and regional plan, state wildlife action plans, and, potential opportunities

  1. Acquiring and protecting natural areas to build strategic core, buffer and corridors of habitat;
    • RBWT is the only local conservation organization offering this service to the Quad Cities Area
    • Land protection/permanent conservation has uniform tenants, but each project has unique circumstances. Examples of how private land can be protected can be found in the Conservation Option section of our website.
    • Purchasing land for permanent protection can only be done when the following criteria are clearly defined which can explain why acquisition projects may take 6 months to a year or more.
      • Property’s relationship to local natural areas, parks, green-ways, threatened and endangered species, organizational priority areas, and Natural Area Inventory Sites;
      • Funds to purchase;
      • Funding to restore/manage ecosystem (owning land is not enough stewardship is essential, an endowed stewardship fund is generally required);
      • Funding to legally protect the property (an endowed stewardship fund is generally required)
      • Ability to maintain the “conservation values” into perpetuity even if surrounding property use changes.

        prescribed burn on a steep hill

        RBWT staff and volunteers assist INPC Heritage biologists with a prescribed burn at Josua Lindahl Hill Prairie Nature Preserve in Milan, Illinois. The site is owned by Augustana College.

  2. Managing and restoring natural areas for native species and people:
    • Managing protected lands which RBWT has key interest in maintaining. Examples include:
      1. Our continued work at the Milan Bottoms Preserve:
      2. Assisting Illinois Nature Preserve Commission (INPC) Heritage Biologists with stewardship and monitoring on dedicated Illinois Nature Preserves;
      3. Future work would include restoration and maintenance on RBWT owned properties or land in priority conservation areas (as designated by the RBWT Board of Directors).

        people walking in woods

        RBWT staff leads an interpretive hike through the forest at Black Hawk State Historic Site.


        truck with people standing on a hillside

        Summer 2016 interns begin clearing invasive shrubs from a hillside in Rock Island.


  3. Education of youth in partnership with other organizations for elementary aged youth and through internships for high school and college aged youth to provide skills necessary to pursue careers in conservation and ecological restoration.
    1. Elementary aged environmental education includes activities include:
      1. Guiding interpretive nature hikes at Black Hawk State Historic Site for youth field trips;
      2. Guiding prairie walks for Spring Forward Learning Center summer field trips;
      3. Leading Monarch Truffle construction workshops.
    2. High school and college aged education includes:
      1. Hosting intern for as part of college curriculum requirements;
      2. Teaching hands on restoration activities like tree planting, invasive species management, plant identification, etc..

        containerized trees to be planted

        RBWT was hired to plant trees as part of implementation of an IDNR forest management plan.

  4. Ecological Services (fee-for-service) where restoration on public and private land serves as the training ground for interns while reaching out to landowners that are interested in conservation but are still developing their conservation goals. RBWT only generates income from services which are substantially related to our charitable and educational purposes that are the basis for our exempt status.
    • RBWT wants to work with landowners interested in doing conservation practices on their properties.  Not every landowner is interested in a conservation easement but that does not necessarily make their project less important ecologically.
    • Offering our expertise for a fee:
      1. Helps to fill a void in the local market for ecological restoration firms;
      2. Allows us to offer mission based, best practice advice and services guided by priorities in the states Wildlife Action Plans (Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Iowa Wildlife Action Plan);
      3. Pays for our restoration staff and “profits” support other non-income generating programs;  and
      4. Sets a standard for what restoration should look like.