Indy Style

Land trust asks for help in preserving one-mile loop trail for nature-based recreation

Nature– wildlife– plants– butterflies– sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

If you caught this morning’s Indy Style, you know there’s a 25-acre beautiful natural area in Indy on the northeast side of town. Community members are trying to save it from development and preserve its habitat.

Benjamin Miller, President of Mud Creek Conservancy, chats with Tracy about the area and how YOU can offer some help.

Mud Creek Conservancy (MCC), an Indiana 501(c)3 non-profit land trust is raising funds to purchase a 25 acre natural area at the corner of 82nd Street and Sargent Road in northeast Lawrence Township, Marion County. MCC plans to permanently preserve this rare, undeveloped, urban habitat and create Sargent Road Nature Park, offering central Indiana residents a conveniently accessible nature preserve with a one mile loop trail for nature based recreation and a convenient environmental education destination for local K-12 students.

Project Updates

Fundraising: To date, MCC has now raised over $267,000 towards the $650,000 campaign goal for acquisition and preservation. We have seen our grassroots fundraising totals double over the months of August and September as more and more community members are buying in to this exciting project, with over 420 families now financially supporting the effort. $167,000 has been raised through individual, family and local organization grassroots contributions. Another exciting development was a recent grant award in the amount of $100,000 from the Herbert Simon Family Foundation awarded to Mud Creek Conservancy for Sargent Road Nature Park in September 2020.

Nature: While our fundraising has seen a lot of positive change recently, natural changes are also occurring out at the site. As we enter into the fall season we are also seeing beautiful changes in scenery as bright yellow goldenrod and vibrant purple New England Asters and Ironweed are in bloom and the fall foliage has suddenly begun to arrive. The site is also currently hosting large and diverse numbers and species of birds as migratory birds make their fall migration back south for the winter. During a guided birding hike last week, 52 species of birds were observed in a 2 hour hike of the 25 acre natural habitat. Monarch Butterflies have also been observed congregating in the meadows, fueling up for their 2,000 mile journey to Mexico.

Partners: Partnerships have been key to the early success of this campaign and we are grateful to all of our early sponsors like Context Design, Absorb Productions, and Timber Design Co that have been providing pro-bono site design and concepts, video production and new branding. Learn more about our sponsors here: https://www.mudcreekconservancy.org/sponsors We are also proud and excited to have joined forces with Local Girl Scout Troop #2715. Driven by their shared interest and passion for seeing this special natural area preserved and Sargent Road Nature Park created, Troop #2715 has chosen to focus their Silver Award efforts on making it happen. Meet our Ambassadors and learn more here: https://www.mudcreekconservancy.org/ambassadors

Join us: We hope Indianapolis residents, organizations and businesses will consider supporting this important community initiative that will provide many lasting benefits to our city. You can learn more about this initiative, take a virtual tour, donate or contact us at:SargentRoadNaturePark.com Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @MudCreekConservancy for project updates, tour opportunities, nature education posts and wildlife photos from the area.

The Sargent Road Nature Park initiative is a volunteer led and community supported initiative that addresses three major objectives and needs: Preservation, Education and Recreation

Preservation: This property is located within a well-connected corridor of natural habitat, extending from Ft. Harrison State Park to Fall Creek Road to 96th Street (MCC’s preservation priority area). Anchored by the state park land and the Fall Creek Greenway to the south, the Mud Creek watershed extends north along Sargent Road and contains many rare and unique habitat types and topography. This area provides a haven for plant and wildlife diversity and contributes to the improvement of air and water quality in a city stressed by urban sprawl. Preserving these 25 acres nearly doubles MCC’s permanently protected habitat in Lawrence Township. Additionally, this property is strategic as it is directly adjacent to 5 existing conservation easements (totaling 4.43 acres) held by MCC. This specific property contains a remarkable array of habitat types for its size. A mix of old growth bottomland forest, wetlands, young forest and open meadows allow a diverse plant and animal community to thrive at this site. With fewer natural areas present in Indianapolis, protecting this property will have immediate and lasting impacts. This site supports an abundance of wildlife species, including migratory songbirds like black and white warblers (special concern) and indigo buntings, amphibians and reptiles like slimy salamanders, eastern box turtles (special concern) and Kirtland’s snakes (state-endangered), mammals like beavers and mink, and thousands of pollinators, including the imperiled monarch butterfly. We believe it is important to preserve diverse wildlife and plant populations for their own well-being as well as the enjoyment and wonder they provide to the residents and visitors.

Education: Perhaps one of the most exciting and unique aspects of this project are the vast environmental and nature education opportunities this site holds. The high diversity of habitat types and wildlife present on the site combined with the location of the proposed nature park within 3.5 miles of Lawrence North High School, Mary Castle Elementary, Crestview Elementary and the Boy Scouts’ Crossroads of America Council headquarters will provide opportunities for more frequent nature experiences and education for students today and into the future. MCC is excited about opportunities to work with Lawrence Township schools and other community groups to provide K-12 students with environmental education and service opportunities on the property. We have already begun partnering with concerned and passionate youth in the area on this effort. We are proud and excited to have joined forces with Local Girl Scout Troop #2715. Driven by their shared interest and passion for seeing this special natural area preserved and Sargent Road Nature Park created, Troop #2715 has chosen to focus their Silver Award efforts on making it happen. We are grateful for the support of these amazing young women and hope you will consider learning from them, their research and supporting their efforts. Each of our SRNP Ambassadors has selected a specific area of interest and will be doing their own research to build a case for supporting their cause and SRNP. Meet our Ambassadors and learn more here: https://www.mudcreekconservancy.org/ambassadors

Recreation: In the northeast corner of Indianapolis, an 8 square mile area bounded by I-69, Hague Road, Fall Creek and 96th Street, is home to over 13,000 residents but contains no public parks or greenspace. MCC’s strategic habitat preservation plan directly overlaps the aforementioned area identified for public greenspace improvement and this 25 acre parcel is centrally located to address both public access and habitat preservation priorities. MCC’s vision for Sargent Road Nature Park includes a parking area and a one mile nature trail that will support activities like walking, jogging, wildlife viewing, bird-watching and more.

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