Dr M Anne Naeth, an internationally recognized researcher in land reclamation at the University of Alberta, conceptualized the land reclamation graduate school early in her career. She envisioned a training program that was highly multidisciplinary and would provide students with face time with real reclamation practitioners, doing real projects, and international opportunities. The announcement of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program (CREATE) grants in 2010 provided the opportunity to pursue this vision. Working with valued colleagues and partners, an application was submitted.

LRIGS was established in 2011 with NSERC CREATE funding and has since built a self-sustaining program. Current funding and in kind support are contributed from the University of Alberta and generous individuals and organizations. While originally established for graduate students, in 2019 LRIGS expanded its vision to include all students of land reclamation in all stages of training, including undergraduate, graduate or post doctoral fellows.