Q: What is Oliver’s Woods?
A: Oliver’s Woods is a 54-acre property that features a mix of settings including: woods with earthen walking trails, former home sites with mowed areas and a filled gravel pit that is now home to mountain biking trails. Located in the bustling Keystone at the Crossing area, the site is bordered to the north by 465, to the west by River Road and to the south and east by the White River. The property is bisected by Carmel Creek. Part of the property east of Carmel Creek is managed by Indy Parks as Town Run Trail Park. The western side is managed by the Central Indiana Land Trust.
Q: How did the Central Indiana Land Trust come to own the property?
A: Oliver’s Woods was owned by Mr. Oliver Daugherty. Over the years, possible organizations were considered by Mr. Daugherty as he thought about who would care for his land when he could no longer care for it himself. Several CILTI board members met with Mr. Daugherty over a ten-year period and discussed protection options with him. CILTI met with Mr. Daugherty, cooperatively with Indy Parks, with the intent of seeing the land protected for future generations. Mr. Daugherty knew about CILTI’s philosophy of protecting nature to benefit plants and animals and to connect Hoosiers to their natural heritage. When Mr. Daugherty passed away in 2009, he entrusted his land to CILTI. Donor intent is of upmost importance to CILTI, and based on his thoughtful consideration of this planned gift, we know that Mr. Daugherty intended for the land to be used in ways that align with CILTI’s mission.
Q: Is Oliver’s Woods open to the public?
A: The western side of the property is not yet open. CILTI is pursuing a zoning change from commercial to special use/recreation in order to open it to the public and build a small gravel parking area. Current zoning would require a paved parking lot, which would be much harder on the environment. The eastern part of the property is open to the public and managed by Indy Parks as Town Run Trail Park.
Q: What is the Central Indiana Land Trust?
A: The Central Indiana Land Trust, Inc. (CILTI) is a nonprofit, membership-based organization that preserves the best of Central Indiana’s natural areas to benefit plants and animals and allow Hoosiers to experience the wonder of the state’s natural heritage today and into the future. Working with willing landowners, CILTI purchases, manages and/or legally protects lands with natural and social significance.
Q: Does CILTI have any experience with a property on the White River?
A: CILTI has several properties that directly border the river providing opportunities for access, use and appreciation of the White River. Currently, CILTI has two properties in Hamilton County that provide access to the river with adjacent canoe launches at each. The canoe launch located just north of 206th Street was built on our Burr Oak Bend Nature Preserve and is managed by Hamilton County Parks. Nonie Werbe Krauss Preserve has an adjacent canoe launch across the street at 116th Street.
Q: Does CILTI have the resources to care for a site like this once open to the public?
A: CILTI owns many nature preserves that are open to the public and is well situated to care for this site once the initial investments are complete. With a full-time stewardship staff person and support team, along with a growing stewardship endowment, CILTI is properly staffed and funded to care for this property in the long term.
Q: What kind of investment has CILTI made in the site so far?
CILTI has planted 2,400 trees on the property to date, and after removing six deteriorating buildings, planted trees on their footprints. More than 1,700 volunteers have assisted CILTI staff in removing invasive species in Oliver’s Woods. Further, CILTI has spent more than $100,000 restoring the banks of the White River at Oliver’s Woods, with methods so successful that they have become a model for other streams in Indianapolis. CILTI has invested more than $100,000 in stabilizing and maintaining the Daugherty House.
Q: Will there be mountain biking on the western side of Carmel Creek like there has been for many years on the eastern side?
A: No, there will be no bike riding on the western side of the property.
Q: Can you go back and forth between the two sides of the property?
A: No, but you will be able to soon. CILTI has contracted with environmental professionals to place slabs of stone in Carmel Creek to allow for foot traffic across the creek when the water is low enough to cross.
Q: I heard CILTI is building an amphitheater, is that true?
A: While it was referred to as an amphitheater in early fundraising materials, “campfire circle” is a more accurate description. Plans are still in the works for this feature, which will likely be a semi-circle of rustic split logs for seating, accommodating roughly 30 adults or 75 schoolchildren for nature programming.
Q: Why do we need another canoe launch when there’s one just upstream?
A: The nearest canoe launch used by paddlers is in Carmel at 106th Street and the White River. A new access point to the White River will facilitate connecting Hoosiers to nature on the river.