Work underway to open Oliver’s Woods Nature Preserve by fall 2020

May 10, 2019

Improvements will allow Hoosiers to more easily connect with the woods and White River.

After years of planning and fundraising, the Central Indiana Land Trust (CILTI) has launched a $765,000 improvement project that will open Oliver’s Woods to the public in the fall of 2020.

A 54-acre nature preserve located in the bustling Keystone at the Crossing area, Oliver’s Woods is bordered to the north by I-465, to the south and east by the White River, and to the west by River Road. Visitors will find a mix of settings: woods with earthen walking trails, frontage along the White River, a filled gravel pit that’s now home to mountain biking trails, and a former homesite that includes mowed areas. The property is bisected by Carmel Creek, which feeds into the White River.

CILTI’s work at Oliver’s Woods has a two-pronged approach: improvements to benefit plants and animals, and improvements to connect Hoosiers to nature.

To enhance the environment for plants and animals, CILTI has to date planted more than 2,400 trees and spent more than $100,000 to restore the banks of the White River on the property. Because the river banks were eroding due to the influx of invasive species, CILTI has enlisted the help of approximately 1,700 volunteers to remove invasive plants in Oliver’s Woods.

Infrastructure improvements that will allow Hoosiers to more easily connect with the woods include:

  • Building a canoe launch from the property to the White River for paddlers who bring canoes (rentals will not be available at Oliver’s Woods)
  • Placing slabs of sandstone in Carmel Creek to allow for foot traffic across the creek when the water is low enough
  • Creating a campfire discussion circle with seating for up to 75 schoolchildren
  • Installing a small gravel parking lot to accommodate visitor parking and school buses
  • Erecting a pole barn for storage
  • Adding a traffic signal at the entrance to improve visitor safety

“The cool thing about Oliver’s Woods is its location in the midst of offices, stores and a busy interstate,” said Cliff Chapman, executive director of CILTI. “You don’t expect to experience nature and the diversity of plants, animals and terrains that exist at Oliver’s Woods in such a densely developed area.”

With a full-time stewardship staff person and support team, along with a growing stewardship endowment, CILTI will care for Oliver’s Woods in perpetuity.

Funding for the project came from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Central Indiana Community Foundation, PK Partners, The Glick Fund, a fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, and members of the Central Indiana Land Trust.

The land was once a farm owned by Oliver Daugherty, who bequeathed it to CILTI.

Part of Oliver’s Woods 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. Mountain biking will continue to be restricted to the east side of the property.

About the Central Indiana Land Trust
CILTI preserves the best of Central Indiana’s natural areas, protecting plants and animals, so Hoosiers can experience the wonder of the state’s natural heritage. Since it was created in 1990, CILTI has protected more than 5,400 acres of land that meet science-based criteria for conservation value. More information at

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MEDIA CONTACT: Jen Schmits Thomas,, 317-441-2487

INTERVIEW SOURCE: Cliff Chapman, Executive Director, Central Indiana Land Trust, 317-525-3329

Jen Schmits Thomas

Media Relations

An award-winning communicator and recognized leader in Central Indiana’s public relations community, Jen helps us tell our story in the media. She is the founder of JTPR, which she and her husband John Thomas own together.