Photo by Deb Potts

Indy’s Lacywood Estate protected forever

June 6, 2016

30+ wooded acres adjacent to Indy’s Lacywood Estate protected forever

Conservation easement ensures property on city’s northwest side won’t be developed

The wooded grounds surrounding the famous Lacywood Estate in Indianapolis will be protected from development forever thanks to a conservation easement signed by the property’s owner, Debra Potts, and the Central Indiana Land Trust. 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.

Burnett Woods reopens with new 1.5-mile trail completed as part of local teen’s Eagle Scout project

Burnett Woods, an Avon-area nature preserve owned and managed by the Central Indiana Land Trust since 1998, reopens to the public on Sept. 13, giving area residents their first opportunity to enjoy the preserve’s recently completed 1.7-mile trail.

The preserve had a half-mile trail until a local Boy Scout, Stephen Schafer of Troop 358 in Zionsville, built a 1.2-mile extension as part of his Eagle Scout project. Now the site has a blue trail that’s .5 miles and a red trail that’s 1.2 miles.

On the 13th, visitors are invited to participate in the re-opening by visiting the preserve anytime between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., when staff will be on hand with maps of the property, refreshments and periodic guided hikes of the new trail, which is ideal for hikers of all ages and skill levels.

The property is open seven days a week from dawn until dusk. Parking is available at the back of the Light and Life Methodist Church, 8264 County Road 100 S, Avon.

The Central Indiana Land Trust conserves and protects natural areas that Hoosiers hold dear. For more information, visit

WHAT:                  Grand reopening of Burnett Woods

WHEN:                  Saturday, Sept. 13, 9-11 a.m.

WHERE:                Burnett Woods Nature Preserve, 8264 County Road 100 S, Avon

COST:                    Free

RSVP:                    Contact Stacy at or 317-631-5263

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

Land Trust names Cliff Chapman new executive director

After a national search and interviews with several highly qualified candidates, the Central Indiana Land Trust (CILTI) has named Cliff Chapman as its new executive director.

Chapman joined CILTI in 2008 as its first Conservation Director. Since then, he has established himself as a local, state and national leader in land preservation. The Strategic Conservation Plan for Central Indiana that he created brought unprecedented success for the organization. The green infrastructure portion of the plan, dubbed Greening the Crossroads, has been called a national model by The Conservation Fund and was featured in the Land Trust Alliance’s Saving Land magazine.

Adopting the plan and focusing land protection efforts in the identified Core Conservation Areas has helped CILTI preserve beautiful places that include Johnson County’s Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow and the Fred and Dorothy Meyer Preserve in Morgan County, both now open to the public with parking lots and trails.

Chapman has led training sessions on conservation planning for state and national audiences and has served on the Board of Directors of Sycamore Land Trust and founded the Oak Heritage Conservancy, a land trust serving southeast Indiana. He currently serves as President of the Indiana Land Protection Alliance and is on the Board of Directors of Amos Butler Audubon and the Natural Areas Association.

Prior to joining CILTI, Chapman served as an ecologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Nature Preserves and as a biologist at The Nature Conservancy in Olympia, Washington. An Indiana University graduate, he lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Carrie, and their newborn son, Will.

About the Central Indiana Land Trust

Founded in 1990, the Central Indiana Land Trust is a local, independent nonprofit conservation organization that secures land and development rights to ensure that natural areas are conserved forever. It has worked with willing landowners to protect more than 4,000 acres.

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Media contact: Jen Thomas, JTPR,, 317-441-2487

Erosion-plagued White River to benefit from gift of land

Erosion-plagued White River to benefit from gift of land

An Indianapolis-based property management firm has donated a one-acre strip of White River frontage that will aid efforts to undo damage done by riverbank erosion.

Barrett & Stokely closed on the agreement with the Central Indiana Land Trust March 6, and, while the amount of land is not large, the potential for good the gift has created is huge.

The White River delivers drinking water to nearly one million people every day. Parts of it, especially on the north side of Indianapolis, are filling in and negatively affecting water quality. Asian bush honeysuckle has invaded nearby land and caused sediment to slide into the river. The build-up has affected boating and fishing on the river and it negatively affects the aquatic population and food chain. This build-up also limits the movement of such species as bald eagle, mink, double-crested cormorant, wood duck and many freshwater mussel species.

The Central Indiana Land Trust has been working diligently over the last ten years to fight the issue and restore natural systems along the river’s course by restoring the riverbank.

“This strip brings us much closer to linking our Oliver’s Woods property around 465 to our White Owl property, just south of 86th Street,” said Central Indiana Land Trust Interim Director Cliff Chapman. “By protecting this large of a swath of river frontage, we are in a great position to stabilize the banks of the White River and provide better wildlife habitat.”

Last summer, thanks to private donations and funding from a settlement after the 1999 fish kill, the Land Trust began fighting the erosion problem by removing honeysuckle, overseeding with native plants and, where needed, installing erosion-control blankets. The innovative project is designed to naturalize the stream bank holding soil that would otherwise fall into the river and have to be filtered out downstream by drinking water intakes.

Once the restoration measures are completed, the Land Trust will spot treat the stream bank to control new honeysuckle plants for many years to come. Chapman added, “We are excited about this strategic gift from Barrett & Stokely and along with our members, whose support makes all this work possible, we plan to work diligently to see the property restored.


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Media contact: Jen Thomas, JTPR,, 317-441-2487

Gift allows Land Trust to protect 64 acres in Parke County


June 4, 2013

Gift allows Land Trust to protect 64 acres in Parke County

Turtle Bend soon will be open for the public to enjoy

Approximately 64 acres of woods in southeastern Parke County will be preserved forever thanks to a generous gift from two retired Purdue University sociology professors to the Central Indiana Land Trust.

The families of Harry Potter and Ray Rymph purchased the land in 1974 as a retreat spot. They recently donated the acreage to the Central Indiana Land Trust, which works to conserve and protect natural areas that Hoosiers hold dear. The land will be protected from future development and open for public use, and a generous gift from the Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust will fund long-term protection and improvements.

Now called Turtle Bend, the land is located off Ferndale Road.

It’s not far from Turkey Run State Park, one of the most visited parks in Indiana with nearly 800,000 visitors in 2012, the land offers an environment similar to the park’s without the crowds. “We see this as becoming a much more peaceful version of Turkey Run,” said Heather Bacher, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust.

Three aspects of the property make it particularly interesting. First, the stream that meanders through it is a tributary to Raccoon Lake, and the water is full of life, with a lot of fish diversity. Among the clearest and cleanest streams in Indiana, it cuts into large sand deposits and creates small cliffs that will continue to erode and create niche habitats.

“In the stream is a sharp S-shaped curve where a half dozen turtles or more would hang out on the bank,” said Harry Potter. “That’s the reason we picked the name ‘Turtle Bend.’”

A second aspect of the property is the sand bluff and sandstone deposits created by the stream, and even a small tributary stream on a bluff top. Third, there’s a great mosaic of younger and older forest with very few non-native species and a lot of diversity (five species of ferns, for example).

Bacher added, “We’re delighted to have our friends and supporters share the beauty of this property and enjoy it for years to come.”

Plans for 2013 include volunteer workdays and building a small parking lot. Land Trust members are invited to celebrate the acquisition on June 13 at 5 p.m. at the Land Trust offices, 1500 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis.

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Media contact: Jen Thomas, JTPR,, 317-441-2487


Explore Indiana: CILTI provides opportunity for nature appreciation

Explore Indiana: CILTI provides opportunity for nature appreciation

By Katelyn Breden

Part of a series of stories on Indiana destinations, including profiles of Sycamore Land Trust, a new eco-tourism business (Natural Bloomington) and an exhaustive list of Indiana land trusts.

The opportunity to get lost in the woods or to navigate the trails or tributaries requires no road trip. Central Indiana Land Trust protects land to preserve Indiana’s natural resources and facilitate connections with nature.

This nonprofit organization has been operating since 1990, with paid staff since 2001. The current executive director, Heather Bacher, has held the position for ten years. When she started working with Central Indiana Land Trust, she was the only paid employee.

Central Indiana Land Trust protects over 4,000 acres of land. While the main focus of the nonprofit’s endeavors is conservation, it also strives to provide resources to help people engage with nature via low-impact activities. These activities include meaningful experiences through photography, exploring, nature study and basic observation. Geocaching, a GPS-driven treasure hunting activity, is also allowed on the protected lands. Dogs are welcome, provided they do not chase after the wildlife.

Visitors must abstain from removing specimens and avoid bringing wood into the preserves. All these guidelines ensure that these lands will remain adequately protected, preserving them for future enjoyment and environmental education.

Central Indiana Land Trust, as a member-supported organization, encourages people to support its mission by becoming members. It never charges entrance fees to its visitors, allowing people to visit from sunrise to sunset. Parking is usually available in a nearby area, and the organization has identified key preserves that will be the focus for increased accessibility through signage, trails and parking.

These key preserves are the protected lands that most often attract families and people seeking relatively easy, casual exploration. For example, Burnett Woods in Hendricks County recently underwent an addition that brought it to a full eighty acres. Central Indiana Land Trust specifically advertises Burnett Woods as a good preserve for young children who will enjoy exploring via marked trails.

For visitors seeking more adventure, Mossy Point is a preserve nearing 200 acres, located in Western Park County on Sugar Creek. This preserve does not have many trails, but does boast beautiful topography of ridges and ravines.

The land preserves are available for more than exploration. Programming and volunteering opportunities are available as well. These areas have been hosts to poetry readings, hot dog roasts, wildflower walks and environmental education. Volunteers can become involved through program organization and leadership, booth staffing, photography facilitating and more. One service project dealt in direct conservation involvement by transplanting wildflowers from the trails to other areas of the preserve.

”One of the things that we really want to get out as part of our mission is that being wise stewards of the land and protecting the best part of our natural areas is a good thing for the community and it’s good for economic development,” says Heather Bacher.

Its website,, provides a comprehensive list of each nature preserve so visitors can plan their next exploration.

From Indiana Living Green on May 28, 2013:


One of Indy’s last pockets of nature

From the Indianapolis Star

Marion County was pretty much paved over decades ago, but nestled here and there are still some pockets of the natural life.

The most striking of these is a patch of ground at 8825 River Road that’s owned by the Central Indiana Land Trust.

It’s hemmed in by the six loud, fast lanes of I-465 and the cement jungle that is the Fashion Mall at Keystone. But it’s spectacular and wild. It feels like you’re in the sticks. It’s 53 acres. Trees cover it, wildflowers cover it. The White River meanders through it. Bald eagles pass over it.

The Land Trust calls it Oliver’s Woods for Oliver Daugherty, the man who could have sold it to developers for millions but didn’t because he wanted to preserve the pocket of nature where his family had lived for generations. Again and again, developers knocked on the door of the grand, old (but extremely dilapidated) family manse, and again and again, Daugherty ordered them off the premises.

Daugherty was an unusual combination of social conservative (he listened to Rush Limbaugh on the radio) and environmental conservationist (he hated suburban sprawl). He wore his hair down to his shoulders, did not take daily showers and drove a bright red Mazda Miata. He never married. He died in 2009 (without heirs) at age 73. He left his property to the Land Trust.

Shawndra Miller

Communications Manager

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.

Land Trust seeks help to stop spread of invasive species


May 16, 2013

Land Trust seeks help to stop spread of invasive species

Several commonly planted ornamental trees, shrubs and groundcovers have become invasive species that harm native plants or trees that support wildlife. They’re still being sold at garden centers across central Indiana.

The Central Indiana Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and preserve the land Hoosiers hold dear. One of the ways it does this is by stewarding the land. The Land Trust works with volunteers to rid properties of invasive species. The Land Trust is asking Indiana residents to do three things.

1. Don’t buy invasive species.

2. If you have them, remove them from your property.

3. Volunteer with the Land Trust to rid them from their preserves. The next opportunity is May 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fred and Dorothy Meyer Nature Preserve in Morgan County.

Five commonly sold plants that invade natural areas in central Indiana include: Purple Wintercreeper, Burning Bush, Japanese Barberry, Privet and Calery Pear Trees (including the Bradford Pear). All of these have invaded central Indiana nature preserves. Asian Bush Honeysuckle and Garlic Mustard are two of the most aggressive invasive species in the region, but are not sold by retailers.

Click here to read the full release.

There are many groups working on this problem, including the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society (INPAWS), which includes a comprehensive list of all the unwanted invasive plants in the state.

For more information, visit



5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Places in Hendricks County

1. Burnett Woods Nature Preserve

Where is it? 8264 E. County Road 100 South in Avon, Indiana.

Who’d love it: Hikers, families and those with a case of wildflower fever.

This 68-acre wooded nature preserve is the state’s only dedicated nature preserve and is managed by the Central Indiana Land Trust. This is a great place to take the kids on a hike and teach them about trees and wildflowers as it is preserved as an example of what once was common in this region and what our ancestors encountered when they arrived in Central Indiana. Afterward, stop for a bite to eat in  Avon. You’ll find a variety of family-friendly establishments, from pasta and pizza to a Japanese steakhouse.

Where can I park?: In back of the Light and Life Methodist Church

To view the complete post on the Hendricks County Blog visit:

My View: Outsdoorwoman, CEO is right choice to head U.S. Interior Department

In recent years, those of us involved in land conservation have seen a subtle but steady shift in attitudes about protecting our natural resources. What used to seem like a fringe movement has become mainstream, and ideas that once seemed controversial are embraced by broad segments of the population. People and organizations that once disagreed have found common ground.

It’s a shift that’s good for our future, and a trend that was brought into sharper focus when President Obama nominated Sally Jewell as secretary of the Interior. The naming of a corporate CEO and avid outdoorswoman to the job sends a signal that it is time to eliminate the divisions that once seemed to define attitudes about conservation. “She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress,” the president said when he announced Jewell’s nomination.

She’s not an elected official or a political insider. She’s not made a lot of headlines, despite the fact that she leads a $1.8 billion outdoor recreation and sporting goods retailer, Recreation Equipment Inc. (REI), which has stores across the nation, including in Indianapolis.

If that were the extent of Jewell’s background, her appointment might not seem like a big deal. After all, someone whose company sells tents, kayaks and other outdoorsy stuff isn’t a far-fetched choice for secretary of the Interior. But what about someone who once worked for a large oil company or who spent time as an executive with big banks’ commercial lending divisions, where, among other things, she managed a $20 billion loan portfolio that included energy companies?

It’s true: Jewell’s resume doesn’t seem to lead to her new role. After earning an engineering degree, she started her career as a petroleum engineer at Mobil – a job that, as she told Forbes magazine, helped her “recognize that there is a cost to consumption.” From the oil fields, she moved to the world of finance. She joined the board of REI in 1996, and a few years later she was named its chief operating officer. In 2005, she took over as CEO.

If you look only at those facts, Jewell’s move from the oil industry and banking to REI might seem like a big leap. But if you look at her personal life, you see that she has a long history with the outdoors and, in fact, with REI. After moving to Washington state from England (where Jewell was born) in 1956, her father decided to try camping. So, according to a 2005 story in the Seattle Times, he “became Recreation Equipment Inc. member No. 17249, purchasing his tent at REI’s original store.”

That camping trip launched Jewell’s father on a love of the outdoors that he passed on to her. She remains an avid outdoorswoman who hikes, camps, climbs mountains, skis, bikes and more. She serves as vice chairman of the National Parks Conservation Association, and makes environmental consciousness a priority at REI.

Meanwhile, she runs a successful company. When she took over as chief operating officer, REI was operating in the red. After she took over, in short order the company was posting all-time-high revenues and profits and distributing record dividends to members. It’s often cited as one of the best companies to work for in America, in part because of its environmental stewardship.

I’ve seen REI’s commitment to conservation first hand. After opening its store in Castleton, the company quickly got involved in Central Indiana Land Trust programs, sponsoring a preserve trail building day and providing employees for volunteer efforts.

With her background, Sally Jewell promises to be a refreshing presence in Washington. Like the Central Indiana Land Trust, it appears she believes that the interests of business are not at odds with conservation. Indeed, strategic conservation is critical to sustainable economic development. We look forward to the discussions during Jewell’s confirmation hearings, and are excited about the common ground that has emerged in the effort to preserve our nation’s natural heritage.

Bacher is executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust.

To visit the full piece featured in the Indy Star on March 7 visit: