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.

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.

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.