Our Vision, Goals, Missions and Projects


Back to the River, in its direction and projects, will exemplify the best efforts of a partnership committed to balancing the needs of natural and human systems. Our efforts will support and enhance conservation, economic development, recreation and education along the river which unites our two states’ urban and rural landscapes.


The Goals of Back to the River reflect a comprehensive vision for the future of our Missouri River corridor. Individual Back to the River projects will address these goals to varying degrees, supporting the overall aim of developing a vital, sustainable river environment.

Promote Recreation and River Access

Back to the River partners to create and expand Missouri River access, parks and open space and supports activities and events to attract the public “Back to the River”.

Encourage Compatible Economic Development

Back to the River encourages economic development opportunities which are compatible with natural ecosystems and the built environment within the Missouri River corridor.

Emphasize Historical and Cultural Resources

Back to the River promotes public art and the interpretation of historic places and events along the Missouri River.

Improve Wildlife Habitat

Back to the River encourages projects which preserve, enhance, restore and create wetland and river habitat for native plants and wildlife.

Promote Education

Back to the River promotes informational and educational programs which provide learning opportunities for all ages to gain a greater awareness, understanding and appreciation of the Missouri River’s value.

Improve Water Quality

Back to the River advocates actions to improve the water quality of the Missouri River, assuring a safe and attractive environment as well as a healthy and reliable source of drinking water.

Endorse Responsible Floodplain Management

Back to the River encourages balanced and appropriate use of the Missouri River floodplain, achieved through integrated structural and non-structural measures.


Back to the River seeks to enhance the quality of life for citizens of the region by supporting the creation, expansion and public use of parks, recreation, habitat and open space along our 64 mile boundary of the Missouri River, from Mondamin, Iowa, south, to the mouth of the Platte River.

To accomplish our mission partnerships are key.  We provide coordination, financial support and planning in conjunction with a varied group of sponsors.  The Project Section recognizes our many partners and their projects.


Over $92 million!  That’s the estimated value of the projects we’ve supported. 

Our work illustrates the diversity of the Missouri River and reflects our Mission, Vision and Goals.   For example, we partnered on the award winning Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge and sponsored the Missouri River Relief Organization’s reoccurring river clean-ups.

Our efforts to assist in the expansion of Fontenelle Forest within the Boyer Chute Natural Wildlife Refuge boundaries and secure the Heinz Property exemplify our commitment to environmental stewardship and the enhancement of wildlife habitat.  

The Missouri River is rich in history.  As a result, historic Interpretation and education are incorporated into many of our projects.   Public art has also found its way into our sponsorships.  Both local and national artists are showcased within facilities we’ve partnered.  

We’ve also used our projects to promote learning opportunities.  For example, elementary students played a critical role in the Children’s Art Wall and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Trail Exhibit.  And to help envision a new green Riverfront infrastructure, we brought together Landscape Architecture students from Iowa State and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln for a fifteen-week service studio.

We helped bring “fun” Back to the River!  Our early vision resulted in a trail system along both sides of the Missouri River.  Now our BCycle stations make using these trails even more convenient. The parks we supported have greatly increased Riverfront visitation.  The River’s Edge Pavilion, with its views of the river and Omaha skyline, is in year round demand.  Belles’ Play Garden has become a “must visit” stop on the Riverfront and you can even play in the water playgrounds located on each side of the river.

Finally, the concerts and special events now hosted along the Riverfront attract thousands, from both Nebraska and Iowa, to come together and celebrate on the banks of the Missouri River.  Attendance for headliners like the Beach Boys, Chicago, the Band Perry, the Omaha Symphony, Shaggy, Creedence Clearwater, TLC and 98 Degrees clearly shows our support of these events and the parks where they now perform, have successfully brought residents and visitors “Back to the River”.

Pictures and detailed information regarding all of our projects can be viewed online here or downloaded in full by viewing this PDF.

Board of
Directors & Officers

Board of Directors


Bob Kerrey

Larry Foster
At-Large Member

Past Presidents
Steve Oltmans
Gayle Malmquist

Vice President
Jim Becic
At-Large Member

Karen Bluvas
At-Large Member

Assistant Treasurer
Gayle Malmquist
At-Large Member

Mark Brohman
Wachiska Audubon Society

Assistant Secretary
Michelle Foss
Fontenelle Forest


Mary Ann Borgeson
Douglas County

Ben Justman
Sarpy County

Mike Archer
Nebraska Game & Parks

Rod Storm
City of Blair

Daniel Bettmann
City of Council Bluffs

Matt Kalcevich
City of Omaha

Clare Duda
At-Large Member

Chris Hamblin
At-Large Member

Heather Tomasek
At-Large Member

Pete Castellano
At-Large Member

John Winkler
Papio-Missouri River NRD

Phil Davidson
City of Bellevue

How can you help Back to the River?

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