Sunset at White River Bluffs

Stunning area along White River saved for nature preserve


June 22, 2017

White River Bluffs in Marion County to be forever protected

The Central Indiana Land Trust (CILTI) has completed Phase 1 of its $2.9 million effort to establish White River Bluffs and preserve forever 12.2 wooded acres along the White River.

A dedicated group of concerned individuals and neighbors, led by Myrta Pulliam and Charley Grahn, came together to raise $2.2 million to close the first part of the deal with Highland Golf and Country Club for 9.1 acres. The property purchased includes some of the oldest trees in Indianapolis growing on a steep bluff that soars above the White River 85 feet below. Highland had considered selling to a developer for a residential project prior to the neighbors and friends group coming together with CILTI to purchase the property as a nature preserve

Grahn first contacted the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which was interested in protecting the unique area. The state ultimately helped CILTI with a $50,000 grant towards the purchase through its Bicentennial Nature Trust.

Located east of Michigan Road between 56th and 52nd streets along the river, White River Bluffs features stunning views of the downtown skyline and a perspective from which nearby Hinkle Fieldhouse looks like a boat floating in a sea of trees. Trees estimated to be 200 to 500 years old stand on the crest of the largest bluff, and bald eagles frequent the area and nests nearby. The bluff is a result of gravel deposited by glaciers 12,000 years ago; its delicate slopes represent a unique geologic feature in Indianapolis.

“This is really a remarkable area and such a special place along the White River,” said Cliff Chapman, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust. “Our donors saw the importance of keeping the land from development, and their generosity allowed us to make the purchase and ensure it will always stay intact and available for all to enjoy when it opens to the public in 2020.”

More than 85 donors contributed gifts for a total of $2.2 million to date. An additional $700,000 is needed to buy the remaining land and maintain the entire preserve. CILTI will purchase the final 3.1 acres from Highland Golf and Country Club in or before 2019 when fundraising is complete.  In the meantime, the private nonprofit is marking the property boundaries and starting work to control invasive species that threaten native plants.

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Media contact: Jen Thomas, JTPR,, 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.