Indianapolis Gives Up 53 Acres of Urban Real Estate- To a Nature Preserve


Photo: jglazer75 under a Creative Commons license.

Last Saturday, Indianapolis officially set aside 53 acres of land to be permanently protected as a nature preserve. Unlike most of America's great national parks, however, this new nature preserve is not out in the country- it's next door to one of Indianapolis' largest shopping districts.

It's safe to say that Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrum and Tiffany & Co. have an unexpected neighbor. The newcomer has been named Oliver's Woods Nature Reserve, in dedication to the man who made its existence possible, Oliver Blair Daugherty. A Teddy Roosevelt for our century, Daugherty defended the land from potential corporate buyers, turning down offers as high as $14 million. The land was originally granted to the Daugherty family in the mid-1800s, and upon his passing in 2009, Oliver Blair bequeathed the 53 acres to the Central Indiana Land Trust.Heather Bacher, Executive Director for the Central Indiana Land Trust, said:

We are delighted that Oliver Daugherty chose to preserve this beautiful natural area in the midst of such a highly developed part of the city, and we are honored that he chose the Central Indiana Land Trust as the vehicle for doing so. Mr. Daugherty's wishes and the mission of the Land Trust are a perfect fit. The Central Indiana Land Trust will ensure that this land is protected forever.

The media-shy Daugherty was a true conservationist. When asked in 2003 interview what he wanted done with the land, he simply said, "I'd like to see what's here stay here." And that's exactly what will happen, in remarkable defiance of the 180,000 people living within a five mile radius of the reserve, not to mention the 1,000 hotel rooms and 40 restaurants within walking distance.

Oliver's Woods includes 16 acres of forest and 37 acres of prairie restoration, and is located on Indiana's White River. The reserve will open for public wildlife viewing and hiking in 2011. It's one of the more inspiring acts of conservation we've seen, up there with CITGO donating an island nature preserve to New Jersey. It's a trend that hopefully will catch on- one rooted in love of and responsibility for the land we make our home.