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History of River Fields

In 1959, land conservation and environmental advocacy were not priorities for the average citizen. Fifty years ago the late Archibald Cochran and Mrs. W.L. Lyons Brown invited a group of like-minded citizens who shared a common interest in preserving the integrity of the Ohio River and its corridor to form the Louisville Area River Foundation, Inc. In 1969, this group was renamed River Fields, Inc.

From those modest visionary beginnings, River Fields has grown into the largest river conservation organization on the Ohio River – with over 2,100 members from 119 zip codes and over 2,200 acres of land protected. River Fields is the ninth oldest of the more than 3,000 conservation organizations in the United States.

Over the past 50 years, River Fields has focused on a wide range of conservation and community issues with a goal to improving the quality of life throughout our region.


In August 2016, River Fields formally achieved accredited status from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission —a mark of distinction in land conservation. Accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission demonstrates our commitment to professional excellence and permanent conservation of resources important to the public of our region.


River Fields and its achievements have been recognized at local, state, and national levels by numerous agencies and organizations, including:

  • Commonwealth of Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission
  • Kentucky Waterways Alliance
  • Louisville Historic League
  • Land Trust Alliance
  • Ohio River Basin Consortium for Research and Education
  • Senate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
  • The International Waterfront Center, Washington, D.C.
  • The Cultural Landscape Foundation

In 2014, the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) asked River Fields Executive Director, Meme Sweets Runyon, to participate in their Lobby Day on Capitol Hill and since then, she has been working with LTA on various ways of speaking to our elected officials about making the tax-incentives for con

servation easements permanent. LTA solicited her help because of her government background, lobbying experience, and advocacy role in the state.

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