Building Momentum

By Kevin Dean

Mission: The Wolf River Conservancy is dedicated to the
protection and enhancement of the Wolf River and its watershed
as a sustainable natural resource.

Year founded: 1985
Service Area: All of Memphis and Shelby County
Annual budget: $848,824

Ways to donate to WRC:
• New tools for service projects like trash pickers and shovels
• New power tools like a cordless drill/driver 18V
• Items for the Soirée silent auction
• Volunteers for events and service projects
• Honorarium and/or memorial donation

The Wolf River Conservancy was founded in 1985 when a group of volunteers came together to successfully oppose a new gravel mine along the Wolf River near Summer Avenue in Memphis. Afterwards, these volunteers chartered the Wolf River Conservancy as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of Wolf River lands for sustainable recreation and education. The founding members had a vision of the Wolf River as a future Greenway and wildlife corridor through the city, protected from the kind of degradation suffered by waterways such as Nonconnah Creek in south Memphis. In the past year, the Conservancy protected over 1,000 acres in the Wolf River watershed and achieved re-accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance, a distinction only 20% of land trusts attain.

The Wolf River Greenway is often confused with the Shelby Farms Greenline, and many people don’t realize they have multiple options! The Wolf River Conservancy’s Greenway follows a River or body of water and a Greenline is typically an abandoned railroad track (rails to trails). The big news is that the two trails will finally converge this summer. The connection is close to Sycamore View Rd. and Mullins Station Rd. The new connection will provide additional walk, run and bike areas.

Over the past year, the Wolf River Conservancy pivoted its programs to virtual platforms and small, outdoor projects with proper safety precautions. The Conservancy hosted monthly virtual educational lectures over the past 12 months, and attendance surprisingly surpassed their prior in-person lectures. Additionally,
the organization’s special events pivoted quickly with their annual Cycle the Greenway morphing into Discover the Greenway, a socially-distant scavenger hunt along the Wolf River Greenway. Meanwhile, their annual Greenway Soiree evolved into a virtual fundraiser and auction.

While large in-person events and programs have shifted due to the pandemic, demand for the Wolf River and Wolf River Greenway has not waivered. According to Bike/Ped Memphis, Wolf River Greenway usage is at an all-time high. The pandemic has only emphasized the importance of access to high quality trails and green spaces for everyone. Memphians can get out to enjoy the outdoors this summer on the Wolf River Greenway trail. Opportunities for hiking, biking, and more abound on the 12 miles of Greenway trail, meandering beside the Wolf River. The Wolf River Conservancy has additionally planned free community programming along the trail, to add even more activities for the public.

Discover the Greenway is an annual fundraising event that takes place over a two-week time period. This year’s event will be May 22nd through June 5th. Originally this event was a one-day, large gathering cycle event, but due to the 2020 Pandemic, the organization shifted this event into a two-week long scavenger hunt requiring participants to walk, run, or bike in search of a variety of sites to be found along the Greenway. The more sites you find the better your chance at winning prizes.
Visit for more details.

Kevin Dean is CEO of the Momentum Nonprofit Partners. He received his Ed.D
in Organizational Learning and Leadership from Vanderbilt University in 2021.

Share Building Momentum: Wolf River Conservancy