September 29 2018 11:00:00 GMT-0500 to the fest

Why the sturgeon?

Alive since the time of the dinosaurs, sturgeon have thrived for over 150 million years. Until recently, that is. With almost all 27 species of the world’s sturgeons on threatened or endangered lists, the IUCN recently declared sturgeon to be "more critically endangered than any other group of species". In Wisconsin, lake sturgeon once numbered in the millions in the waters of Lake Michigan, with many of those returning to spawn in the Milwaukee River.

Stunningly, at the start of this project, it is believed only a few thousand remained in Lake Michigan and not a single sturgeon had been spotted in the Milwaukee River since the 1890s. With thousands of hours of dedicated volunteer work, the Wisconsin DNR and Riveredge are working together to ensure this prehistoric species, with profound cultural and ecological ties to the state, thrives again.

Thank you to our sponsors

We and the sturgeon are eternally grateful to these fine organizations and companies for donating their time and money to make this initiative possible.

An annual initiative

Sturgeon take their time. With many individuals living up to one hundred years or more, it can be twenty to forty years before a female first spawns! That’s why this project is built on a long-term scale, too. Each year, 1,000 to 1,500 eggs are raised in a streamside rearing facility on Riveredge Nature Center’s grounds. There, the eggs are immersed in circulating water straight from the Milwaukee River, allowing them to imprint on the river, or in other words, be more likely to return there when they are finally ready to begin the spawning process. Ultimately, the partnership initiative is designed to last 25 years, enough time to stock a breeding population of over 25,000 fish and study the long term results (when those long term voyagers might finally return home to the river!). Perhaps the coolest part? The project is almost entirely volunteer led: amazing community members devote huge amounts of time to feeding and caring for the sturgeon and ensuring they are ready for release!

Like what you see?

The sturgeon restoration project is just one example of Riveredge's passion for connecting our communities to the natural world. When you become a Riveredge member, you're joining a family that offers education, adventure, and relaxation all year long. Riveredge members support our work and enjoy amazing benefits, including:

Year-round access

Enjoy our 379 acres of wild Wisconsin and ten miles of trails for FREE everyday, dawn to dusk. Adventure awaits!

Free programs

Trail pass level members participate in our group guided hikes & Silent Sports group programs for free. All-access members get free access to almost ALL programs and festivals!


Save on special programs, events, & summer camps as well as nature store purchases & rentals.

Exclusive events and programs

Enjoy exclusive events and programs just for members: seasonal dinners like Yule Log & Maple Syrup Suppers, youth and adult tree climbing clubs, and more!

Day passes to share

Share guest day passes with friends for a perfect group outing

Restore your land

Enjoy access to Riveredge Wildscaping Services and our highly experienced land management staff

Admission to over 140 nature centers

Enjoy reciprocal membership benefits to nature centers throughout the country through the Association of Nature Center Administrators

Hand release a sturgeon

Support the sturgeon and hand release one of these amazing relics of the dinosaur age at this year's event.

Sponsor a sturgeon