Carpenter Nature Preserve planning underway | News

The Wolf Run Golf Course closed in 2017 and after some development attempts and other ideas, the property sat vacant for several years.

Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron said landlord Stan Burton brought a project to council and it was turned down, but he invited Mayor and Deputy Mayor Julie Johns-Cole to visit the property to check it out in the summer of 2020.

“I was so stunned by the beauty of the land,” Styron said. “We walked the trail system there and I asked him what it would take to get him going. Stan said $6 million and I went home that night and started calling people, asking for $1 million.

While many community members were interested, it wasn’t until Styron met Jim and Nancy Carpenter, founders of Wild Birds Unlimited and a couple with a keen sense of conservation, that she heard the word “yes.” “.

“Nancy was instrumental in setting up and running our Zionsville Nature Center and when she got out and saw the property she saw the same thing Julie and I saw. It became his passion to see this land preserved forever,” said Styron.

The Carpenters purchased the land with the agreement that the city will purchase the property from them after some fundraising efforts and the 216-acre property will be named Carpenter Nature Preserve.

The Zionsville Nature Center is currently housed at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library and both organizations are thrilled with the combination of programming and accessibility through this partnership. However, Carpenter Nature Preserve will provide a brick-and-mortar location with plenty of green space and activities in addition to the Nature Center activity at the library.

“In 2021 the Parks Department got involved and we started meeting with the DNR (Indiana Department of Natural Resources) and looking at how to get this property to a natural state, what kind of native species would thrive and we are currently in the master planning process,” Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jarod Logsdon said. “This will increase our current parks system by more than half.

At the design stage, ideas range from a canopy walk, nature trails, outdoor classrooms, wildlife shades and, of course, a permanent home for the Nature Center. Much of the programming will be nature-focused, but may include cross-country skiing and other unique activities.

Styron said the importance of green space and landscaping has never been more widespread.

“I think during COVID people have fallen in love with their local community and the amenities they provide. Our use of trails and parks was off the charts during the pandemic. I know the community around the park is really happy about it and they know part of their heritage is preserved and that means a lot to me,” Styron said. “I am incredibly happy that we are not only adding to our network of parks, but preserving a landscape that the community truly cherishes.”

Next steps include acquiring the land from the carpenters and launching a public engagement website regarding planning and community feedback.

The new Zionsville Parks Foundation will be a huge support in this endeavour.

“The Zionsville Parks Foundation was established just under a year ago, they got their 501c3 last fall and immediately started supporting us,” Logsdon said. “They started with the Winterfest event and are looking at summer camp scholarship programs. They have been heavily involved in the community from the start.

Funding opportunities and grant applications will begin rolling in partnership with the Parks Foundation and Styron hopes to purchase the property within the next 12 months.

“You’d be surprised how many people have started calling and saying they have land they’d like to donate to the parks department,” Styron said. “It’s interesting, who knows what will happen in four years in terms of the footprint on green space and what we will see thanks to the generosity and remarkable efforts of the carpenters and others.”

In the meantime, Styron and Logsdon want to hear from the community. Visit the website at for more information on the Carpenter Nature Sanctuary.

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