State’s only dedicated nature preserve in Hendricks County will host guided tour on Saturday

Saturday’s sunny forecast means it’s the perfect day to check out the state’s only dedicated nature preserve in Hendricks County.

While Burnett Woods in Avon is open to the public year-round, its only guided interpretive tour of the year is this weekend. The 90-minute tour begins at 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at 8264 County Road 100, Avon.

Burnett Woods is a dedicated Indiana State Nature Preserve protected by the Central Indiana Land Trust, said conservation director Cliff Chapman. It’s the first property purchased by the Land Trust, in 1998, and among 18 nature preserves owned and protected by the Land Trust. Fourteen of the properties are open to public with another three opening by the end of the year.

Burnett Woods is also cool because of its location. The 68-acre woods is in an area of high development of eastern Hendricks County.

Chapman described Burnett Woods as “breathtaking in the spring, birdy in the summer, colorful in the fall, and — with so many spring wildflowers that already have leaves up, making the forest floor as much green as brown — promising in the winter.”

Chapman said during this weekend’s hike, he’ll focus on these things:

• Owl breeding season, which is going on right now. Barred owls are nesting on the property.

• Winter survival for mice, how they interact with plants, and their reproduction.

• What are tip-up mounds, and why they are important for animals like salamanders.

• Wetlands and their value.

• How to identify trees in the winter.

We asked Chapman to talk about the property and here’s what he said:

Q: What’s special about the property?

A: Burnett Woods is one of the best examples anywhere in Central Indiana of a flatwoods plant community. “This type of forest was once the most common type found in Indiana, but is almost entirely gone, as it made for really good farmland.”

Q: What does Burnett Woods offer the community?

A: Burnett Woods has a loop trail that’s open to the public. There are also many wetlands. And it allows people to see what once was such a common part of our landscape, a flat woods full of a wide range of tree, plant, bird and other species.

Q: When is Burnett Woods open to the public?

A: The site is open year round from dawn to dusk. We ask that people not visit on Sunday mornings as we park in the neighboring church parking lot and want to respect their needs.

Q: The property has many wetland areas. What’s the advantage?

A: These wetlands hold water after big rain storms and allow the water to slowly infiltrate and charge the groundwater system. This reduces flooding for the nearby area.

Q: What does it mean to belong to be a Land Trust?

A: The property was protected and is managed by the Central Indiana Land Trust, so it offers a great natural area to explore that is not paid for or maintained by tax dollars, but rather the members of the Trust.

Q: How many times a year does the Land Trust conduct guided tours of its properties?

A: We offer several tours at various nature preserves around Central Indiana. This is our second hike. Visit to learn about more tours.

Featured in the Indy Star on February 22nd. To read the complete article visit:

Call Star reporter Betsy Reason at (317) 444-6049.