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

From Indiana Living Green on May 28, 2013: http://www.indianalivinggreen.com/explore-indiana-cilti-provides-opportunity-for-nature-appreciation/