What We Do

We are your local land trust.

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CILTI preserves the best of Central Indiana’s natural areas, protecting plants and animals, so Hoosiers can experience the wonder of the state’s natural heritage. Our organization holds these affiliations:

  • Proud supporting member of Indiana Land Protection Alliance (ILPA). ILPA is a vibrant nonpartisan network of land trusts, conservation partners and community members. Our alliance champions land and water protection for all of Indiana.
  • Nationally accredited by the Land Trust Alliance Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, which is a resource center for conservation organizations across the country.

CILTI works closely with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. We proudly partner with the Division of Nature Preserves, The Nature Conservancy, and many land trusts from across the state in our land protection efforts.

To guide our work, we have developed a strategic conservation plan that blends landscape, plant community, and species-based methodologies. Our approach is three-tiered, as we strive to:

  • protect land of local or community significance*
  • assist partners with their priority lands**
  • preserve core conservation areas (our main focus)

Conservation Targets

In preserving core conservation areas, our goal is to protect land representing the best examples of Central Indiana’s ecological character. Using the best available science, we have assessed the central third of Indiana, prioritizing protection of the following conservation targets:

Mossy Point

How We Work

The Central Indiana Land Trust has protected more than 6,500 acres of Indiana’s natural heritage since 1990. This protection usually takes one of three forms:

  • We own and manage nature preserves. After receiving donations of land or buying land, we manage those lands as preserves for the benefit of the public.
  • We hold conservation easements. We forge legal agreements with willing landowners to protect their land by restricting certain activities and preserving conservation values forever.
  • We form management agreements. We help landowners develop and implement stewardship plans that protect their properties’ unique conservation values.

*Land of local or community significance includes properties that may be less valuable from an ecosystem standpoint, but are meaningful projects because of their special features or importance to the community. For example, our Oliver’s Woods Nature Preserve encompasses 54 acres of green space tucked into a highly developed commercial corridor. It offers city dwellers an oasis in the midst of urban life.

**Partners’ priority lands might be owned by organizations like another land trust, state DNR, or a local park system. Our role may be different depending on the situation. For example, if landowners need to sell quickly and partner organizations can’t work as nimbly as they would like, CILTI can step in and protect land that will be transferred to the partner for long-term protection. This acreage is represented as “Assists” on the Where We Work page.

The Central Indiana Land Trust promises to actively steward its lands – forever. Our professional stewardship staff form the core of our on-the-ground work as we vigilantly care for these places in perpetuity.

West Virginia white butterfly on bellwort

This team executes each preserve’s management plan based on science and the best interests of the land and wildlife that call it home.

We monitor for rare and endangered species, as well as invasive and exotic ones, as we work to restore and preserve the best of Central Indiana.

We offer opportunities to work side-by-side with our dedicated stewardship team during volunteer work days and special events. Our volunteers – Wednesday Warriors, corporate volunteers, university groups, families, and more – go behind the scenes with land conservation activities in natural areas. Find a volunteer event here.

Shagbark hickory at Meltzer

We take our role in mitigating climate change seriously. We work locally, with an eye on the bigger global impact of our actions.

For example, we protect the forests that are so key to a livable future. In places like Burr Oak Bend, Meltzer Woods, and Glacier’s End, we are planting trees and supporting the overall forests’ resilience. Not only do forests provide important habitat, filter water, and clean the air, they also offer one of the best ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Trees take more and more carbon out of the atmosphere every year as they grow. They also send carbon into the soil through their leaf litter and dead roots.

Each tree we plant and protect will store carbon over time, exponentially increasing the carbon storage with each passing year. Every acre of protected forest will magnify this effect. Here at CILTI, our aim is to buffer protected woodlands by at least a square mile of additional forest. Over the coming years we will plant a million trees on protected land.

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