Shagbark hickory

Happy Earth Day! (Plus: The 9th Iconic Preserve to Visit)

A letter from our executive director

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series of nine off-the-beaten-path preserves. The final featured place and a recap are below, but we also wanted to step back, this Earth Day, to talk about the big picture of land protection. Continue reading

Cliff Chapman

Executive Director

As CILTI’s Executive Director, Cliff keeps CILTI’s focus on good science and stewardship. He’s mindful that the natural places you love took thousands of years to evolve and could be destroyed in a single day, and that knowledge drives his dedication to their protection.
Volunteer pulling garlic mustard

How You Can Help Nature.

A letter from our executive director

As we make our way through this uncertain time, we at CILTI are keeping all of our members, supporters, volunteers and friends in our thoughts. We send all good wishes your way for safety and health, and that of your loved ones. Continue reading

Cliff Chapman

Executive Director

As CILTI’s Executive Director, Cliff keeps CILTI’s focus on good science and stewardship. He’s mindful that the natural places you love took thousands of years to evolve and could be destroyed in a single day, and that knowledge drives his dedication to their protection.
Drooping trillium

Nature is Not Closed

A letter from our executive director

As you may have guessed, we are cancelling our upcoming events. But we’re here to remind you, during this difficult time, that nature isn’t closed. Even though travel has been restricted in many places across Central Indiana, we can take notice of nature right where we live. Continue reading

Cliff Chapman

Executive Director

As CILTI’s Executive Director, Cliff keeps CILTI’s focus on good science and stewardship. He’s mindful that the natural places you love took thousands of years to evolve and could be destroyed in a single day, and that knowledge drives his dedication to their protection.
Photo by Emily Schwank

Land Trust closes deal to buy final 3.1 acres from Highland Country Club

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2020

Unique hanging garden to attract butterflies at White River Bluffs nature preserve

The Central Indiana Land Trust Inc. (CILTI) has closed on its final purchase of land from Highland Golf and Country Club, which means the land-conservation organization can proceed with plans to open White River Bluffs Nature Preserve in 2021.

Continue reading

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.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 www.ConservingIndiana.org.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Jen Schmits Thomas, jen@jtprinc.com, 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.

Mossy Point Nature Preserve Grows, Protects Unique Plants and Wildlife

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 14, 2018

Pristine acreage is “the most beautiful place we’ve ever protected”

The Central Indiana Land Trust purchased 25 acres of land to add to the Mossy Point Nature Preserve in Parke County. The newly purchased property also adjoins CILTI’s 191-acre Mossy Point Preserve; DNR’s Covered Bridge Retreat property; and Wabash College’s state-dedicated nature preserve Allee Woods, creating an approximately 700-acre swath of contiguous protected property.

“This is the most beautiful place we’ve ever protected,” Central Indiana Land Trust Executive Director Cliff Chapman said. “The terrain, the vegetation, the wildlife … it’s just a breathtaking display of natural Indiana. It’s like a small, unspoiled Turkey Run.”

Located along Sugar Creek, the new Mossy Point acreage includes a sandstone canyon, a rocky creek bed and unspoiled wooded areas with tree species including white oak and shagbark hickory. Craggy landscapes extending down to Sugar Creek host Ice Age remnant stands of Eastern hemlock, and shady areas give space to unusual plants such as wintergreen and partridgeberry.

“This is an iconic landscape that was not able to be shared until now. It is such an honor to be able to protect this hidden treasure and be able to share it with all Hoosiers in the future,” Chapman said. “The property connects two nature preserves. It is keystone to the larger area for plants, animals and for people to enjoy.”

In addition to being the Land Trust’s most beautiful acquisition, the new acreage also represents the quickest transaction the organization has ever closed. Owners – and longtime Land Trust members – Cliff and Dixie Kunze had already put “For Sale” signs on the land when the Land Trust heard it was on the market. Four weeks after initial conversations, the deal was closed.

“Understandably, the Kunzes weren’t sure we could move fast enough to get the deal completed and get them a good price for their land,” Chapman said. “Once they understood the urgency of the precious landscape that could be lost, our partners and members rose to the occasion, and the Kunzes were able to protect the land they love while still getting fair market value for it.”

Vulnerable species of breeding birds also find sanctuary in the Sugar Creek Valley, including critical populations of wood thrush, cerulean warbler, worm-eating warbler, Louisiana waterthrush and hooded warbler, as well as bald eagles.

The Land Trust raised $191,000 to purchase the 25 acres and build a trail and four-spot gravel parking area that will be opened to the public by fall 2019. Funding for the project came from the State of Indiana’s President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Steve and Catherine Simon, Efroymson Family Fund and members of the Central Indiana Land Trust.

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 www.ConservingIndiana.org.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Jen Schmits Thomas, jen@jtprinc.com, 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.
American beech

New bee species discovered at Avon’s Burnett Woods

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2018

Native bees could help crop pollination

Watch video footage from WRTV-6.

Amid a decline in pollinators nationwide, a species of bee never before seen in Indiana has been discovered at 20-year-old nature preserve not far from busy Rockville Road in Avon.

Burnett Woods Nature Preserve is an 80-acre property in Avon that the Central Indiana Land Trust has owned and managed since 1998. The Land Trust has worked with hundreds of local volunteers to clear invasive weeds such as Asian Bush Honeysuckle and Garlic Mustard, which take over and crowd out native species and wildflowers.

All that work means improved habitat for native plants and animals. The first reward for all that work is the discovery of the bee never before found in Indiana.

“This is validation of the hard work that’s gone into making the natural area healthy for native species,” said Cliff Chapman, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust.

A Hendricks County resident and entomologist, Robert P. Jean, Ph.D., collected the bee near native wildflowers. After studying it in his lab, Jean identified it as an Andrena uvulariae, which had never been recorded in Indiana and are found only occasionally in the eastern U.S.

“While we’re still learning a lot about bee species, we know this discovery is a big deal because the more native bees, the greater the opportunities for crop and wildflower pollination,” Chapman said. “If I were a farmer or gardener in Hendricks County, I’d be excited about this.”

Pollinators transfer pollen from one flower to another, fertilizing plants so they can grow and produce food. Without bees to spread pollen, many plants – including most food crops –would not reproduce.

Burnett Woods is home to black walnut, oak, hickory, maple and tulip poplar trees, as well as native wildflowers, which are particularly picturesque in springtime.

About Burnett Woods
Burnett Woods is an 80-acre nature preserve owned and managed by the Central Indiana Land Trust since 1998. It is dominated by tall black walnut, oak, hickory, maple and tulip poplar trees, as well as wildflowers and two loop trails. Located at 8264 E. County Rd. 100 S. in Avon, Burnett Woods is open daily from dawn to dusk and is a peaceful retreat from city life.

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 5,200 acres of land that meet science-based criteria for conservation value. More information at www.ConservingIndiana.org.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Jen Schmits Thomas, jen@jtprinc.com, 317-441-2487

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.

Oliver’s Woods Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Shawndra Miller

Communications Specialist

Shawndra is in charge of sharing our story and connecting you to our work. Through our print and online materials, she hopes to inspire your participation in protecting special places for future generations.

Controlled burn to assist habitat restoration at Fishers’ Krauss Nature Preserve

The Central Indiana Land Trust (CILTI) will conduct a controlled burn on approximately 28 acres of the Nonie Werbe Krauss Nature Preserve on Dec. 6, weather permitting. The preserve is located at the southwest corner of 116th Street and Eller Road in Fishers.

Controlled burning is used for resource management in natural areas to help restore habitats, control invasive species and benefit wildlife.

“We want to give residents plenty of notice so no one is alarmed by the burn,” said CILTI Executive Director Cliff Chapman. “We also want to use this as an opportunity to explain that burns are a standard practice in the proper management of natural areas.”

“Fire is nature’s way of managing prairies and forests,” continued Chapman. “Because we have so few uncontrolled burns, it’s necessary to plan controlled burns to ensure that the ecosystems in our prairies and oak woodlands stay healthy. Fire helps to eliminate invasive species and allow native plants to prosper.”

The Land Trust has contracted with Davey Resource Group, a division of Davey Tree Expert Company, to conduct the burn. Davey’s trained staff will be uniformed and all vehicles and equipment marked. Prior to the burn, professionals have conducted site preparation that included buffering areas surrounding the burn.

The burn plan has been approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), and CILTI sent letters to nearby businesses and residents last month to notify them the burn would happen.

Previously known as the Wapahani Nature Preserve, the 77-acre preserve was renamed in 2015. The preserve features a restored prairie and bottomland forest along the White River. The prairie is being managed to become a burr oak savanna over the coming decades. Over 19,000 trees were planted in the bottomland forest. Common species found include a variety of prairie grasses, prairie dock, milkweed, monarch butterflies, Baltimore oriole, belted kingfisher, grasshopper sparrow and American mink. Parking is available behind Riverside Middle School (10910 Eller Road, Fishers) after 4 p.m. on weekdays and anytime on weekends.

About the Central Indiana Land Trust Inc. (CILTI)

The Central Indiana Land Trust works with landowners to protect and enhance natural areas to ensure there are natural places all Hoosiers can enjoy now and in future generations.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jen Schmits Thomas, 317-441-2487, jen@jtprinc.com

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Controlled burn FAQs

 Why are controlled burns necessary?

Fire is a natural process for Indiana natural areas. Because we have so few uncontrolled burns, it’s necessary to plan controlled burns to ensure that the ecosystems in our prairies and oak woodlands stay healthy. Fire is actually nature’s way of managing a forest. Fire helps to eliminate invasive species and allow stronger plants to prosper.

What happens during a controlled burn?

Most of the time spent for a controlled burn is before the burn day. A written plan outlines where the burn will occur on the property, how it will be conducted and under what weather conditions. The plan must be approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The area is prepared by establishing buffer areas, which involve clearing downed wood, moving and clearing leaf litter.

After ignition takes place using a drip torch, the fire is allowed to back burn. The fire along the fire break is then put out. As we progress, we continually monitor our line and the two crew bosses are in communication, keeping each other apprised of the progress each crew is making. Once the backburn and flanks of the unit are blackened, the two crews will light a head fire, moved along by the wind. The head fire moves across the unit quickly. After the head fire is lit, we continue to monitor the unit, particularly the downwind side for embers in the air. Once the fire is complete, there is an after-action review of the fire. Some of the crew will go out again to make sure the fire unit is secure.

Who conducts the actual burn?

CILTI personnel are involved in the planning, but the actual burn is done by professionals who are trained in conducting burns. In this case, CILTI has contracted with Davey Resource Group, a division of Davey Tree Expert Company, to conduct the burn. Davey’s trained staff will be uniformed and all vehicles and equipment marked.

 How long does a burn usually take?

It depends on size, weather and habitat. It could take less than an hour or several hours.

How long will the burn at the Krauss preserve take?

It will depend on weather and how wet the area is, but most likely will be less than one hour.

 What happens after the burn?

The burn crew inspects for anything in the area that is retaining heat and douses it with water. The crew doesn’t leave until the area is completely out with no embers burning.

Will the area be open after the burn?

Yes.

 

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.

Pulliam gift supports Land Trust’s river plan, opening of Oliver’s Woods

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aug. 28, 2017

Thanks to a $645,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, the Central Indiana Land Trust (CILTI) is progressing on three projects designed to increase access to and appreciation for the White River in the Indianapolis metropolitan area.

Perhaps most notably, the gift will allow for the opening of Oliver’s Woods Nature Preserve, a 53-acre swath of natural landscape and river frontage next to the bustling Keystone at the Crossing area.

The projects at Oliver’s Woods and the nearby White Owl Preserve will include public canoe launches, giving area residents easier access to river enjoyment and appreciation than ever before. The White River Bluffs Preserve project will allow for improvements and amenities at one of the Land Trust’s most recent acquisitions.

“For decades, the majority of area residents have had virtually no access to the river or the natural areas that line it,” said Cliff Chapman, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust. “With its generous gift to the Land Trust and other organizations, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust is opening the door to a new understanding of some of our area’s greatest natural assets and opportunities.”

More information about each of the Land Trust’s White River projects is included below.

Oliver’s Woods

At Oliver’s Woods, a 53-acre preserve off River Road near Keystone at the Crossing, planned improvements include a canoe launch, a parking lot to accommodate visitors, trails and signage, ongoing restoration to the property and more. In addition to its river frontage, Oliver’s Woods features 16 acres of woods and 37 acres of prairie-savanna restoration. The southern portion of the popular Town Run Trail Park is also part of the property, and the improvements include a connection to the mountain bike trails from River Road.

White Owl

Slightly downriver from Oliver’s Woods, the six-acre White Owl Conservation Area will also gain a canoe launch as a result of the Pulliam Trust’s gift. This means the public could enjoy quick nature excursions on the river, going from Oliver’s Woods to White Owl, or enjoy longer adventures from either location. CILTI already has been working to restore the site and improve a shallow marsh impoundment and floodplain forest for the benefit of wildlife and the river.

White River Bluffs

With its stunning views of the White River and the city as a whole, White River Bluffs will benefit from the grant by seeing restoration and improvements at the site. Located east of Michigan Road between 52nd and 56th streets near Highland Country Club, the property includes some of the oldest trees in Indianapolis growing on a steep bluff that soars above the White River 85 feet below.

On July 27, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust announced over $4.9 million in grants to nine nonprofit organizations to support a collaborative effort to improve the White River and the public’s access to it. The collaborative, known as the Partners for the White River, includes the Land Trust, The daVinci Pursuit, Friends of the White River, the Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Reconnecting to Our Waterways, The Nature Conservancy, White River Alliance and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

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Media contact: Jen Thomas, JTPR, jen@jtprinc.com, 317-441-2487

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.