Founders Fen

CILTI takes ownership of Hancock County site including unique fen


Seeks to buy adjacent land to fully protect feature rich in biodiversity and environmental impact

The Central Indiana Land Trust, Inc. (CILTI) has received ownership of a 9.8-acre Hancock County site from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), allowing it to protect forever a biodiverse and environmentally significant feature known as a fen.

INDOT, which had offered the property to interested parties as a non-marketable mitigation site, accepted CILTI’s ownership proposal earlier this month. CILTI is working with the owner of an adjacent property to purchase additional land that will allow it to protect the fen more completely.

“This is a unique opportunity to preserve a place that offers rich biodiversity and also provides tangible benefits,” said CILTI president and CEO Cliff Chapman. “In addition to helping to remove carbon from the atmosphere, fens help to control flooding and filter groundwater that ends up in our drinking water.”

Founders Fen, in southeastern Hancock County, is the second most southern fen in Indiana. Hotspots of biodiversity and sinks for atmospheric carbon, fens have groundwater flowing at or just under the surface, creating a calcium-rich environment with a thick layer of peat. Water flowing at a constant rate robs the soil of nutrients, producing a mineral-rich, nutrient-poor medium for some of Indiana’s rarest plants.

The Founders Fen site is so full of native species that Indiana’s state botanist made two site visits in 2021 to inventory plants. The site harbors rare, native plant species including the state-endangered American burnet, as well as white turtlehead, Indian plantain and queen of the prairie. Due to the delicate nature of ecosystem, the site will not be open to the public.

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Photos from Founders Fen at
See the Indianapolis Business Journal story here.

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.