The first dedicated nature preserve was Pine Hills Nature Preserve in Shades State Park, dedicated in 1969. Since then, the state nature preserve system has grown to be the most widely distributed system of protected lands in the state. Seventy-one counties contain 178 nature preserves that are open to the public. Visitation is allowed to the extent that the features can tolerate it without deterioration. Nature preserves are set aside primarily to protect the plants, animals and natural communities that are found on them, providing protection in perpetuity for the benefit of future generations.
We work closely with many others in dedicating significant natural areas, including local city and county park systems, The Nature Conservancy and local land trusts, the DNR Divisions of State Parks & Reservoirs, Forestry, and Fish & Wildlife, as well as Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, and colleges and universities.
- County and City Partners
- Land Trust and Non-Profit Partners
ACRES Land Trust
Incorporated in 1960, Acres exists to help protect the last of our natural habitats in northeast Indiana, southern Michigan and northwest Ohio, and to teach others the value of keeping natural areas intact.
- Acres Along the Wabash
- Bender (Lloyd W.)
- Bicentennial Woods
- Blue Cast Springs
- Crooked Lake
- Fawn River
- Fogwell Forest
- Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run
- Little Cedar Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
- Marion’s Woods
- Marsh Wren
- Robb Hidden Canyon
- Ropchan Memorial
- Spurgeon (Edna W.)
- Wing Haven
- Woodland Bog
Central Indiana Land Trust (CILTI)
A nonprofit organization founded in 1990, the Central Indiana Land Trust protects more than 4,000 acres of land at nearly 50 sites in Central Indiana.
Indiana Karst Conservancy (IKC)
The Indiana Karst Conservancy is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of Indiana’s unique karst features. The IKC was formed by concerned individuals when it became apparent that no similar group was actively protecting such features for their inherent geological, biological, and historical importance.
NICHES Land Trust
‘NICHES’ stands for ‘Northern Indiana Citizens Helping Ecosystems Survive’. It was founded in 1995 by a diverse group of concerned people acting to protect natural spaces in the face of increasing threat. It works cooperatively with partners to actively seek to protect a broad array of natural areas ranging from small green spaces to pristine nature preserves of high biological integrity.
- Black Rock
- Black Rock Barrens (Heischman-McAdams Reserve)
- Fisher Oak Savanna
- Granville Sand Barrens
Red-Tail Land Conservancy, Inc.
Red-tail Land Conservancy preserves, protects, and restores natural areas and farm land in east central Indiana while increasing awareness of our natural heritage. Focused on this mission in five counties in east central Indiana, the not-for-profit land trust has grown steadily since its inception in 1999 when a public meeting held at Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie attracted 87 people.
- Munsee Woods
Shirley Heinze Land Trust
Shirley Heinze Land Trust was established in 1981 as a charitable trust to preserve and protect the unique ecosystems of the Indiana Dunes region. It manages nearly 1,300 acres in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties. Included in the Heinze holdings are examples of the entire spectrum of natural communities, five of their properties are State Dedicated Nature Preserves. It is a well established organization preserving these natural areas for present and future generations to enjoy.
Sycamore Land Trust (SLT)
Sycamore Land Trust was founded in 1990 with a mission to preserve and restore the disappearing natural and agricultural landscape of southern Indiana. Sycamore also operates an environmental education program that helps create the next generation of conservationists by instilling a love of nature in children. They have preserved over 82 properties totaling over 8,000 acres spanning fifteen counties.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Since 1959, The Nature Conservancy in Indiana has protected more than 80,000 acres of forests, wetlands, prairies, lakes and streams for current and future generations to enjoy.
- Big Walnut
- Cedar Bluffs
- Chelsea Flatwoods
- Conrad Station
- Douglas Woods
- Fern Cliff
- Green’s Bluff
- Ivanhoe Dune and Swale
- Ober Savanna
- Saunder’s Woods
- Spinn Prairie
- Teeple Glade
- Thousand Acre Wood
Oak Heritage Conservancy
A local land trust established in 2002, Oak Heritage Conservancy protects land in perpetuity by outright purchase, by accepting donations, bequests or conservation easements. Their mission is to preserve, protect, and conserve land and water resources that have special natural, agricultural, scenic, or cultural significance. OHC will strive to educate the public about the critical importance of honoring land, water, and local culture.
Ouabache Land Trust
The Ouabache (pronounced Wabash) Land Conservancy was founded in 2007 to protect natural lands and farmlands from development. OLC serves west central Indiana, including Clay, Fountain, Montgomery, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion, and Vigo counties.
- State Partners
Clark State Forest
Harrison-Crawford State Forest
Jackson-Washington State Forest
Martin State Forest
Morgan-Monroe State Forest
DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife
Galena (Springfield Fen) Wetland Conservation Area
Jasper – Pulaski State Game Preserve
Manitou Islands Wetland Conservation Area
Marsh Lake Wetlands State Fish and Wildlife Area
Pigeon River State Fish and Wildlife Area
Round Lake Wetland Conservation Area
- Round Lake Wetland Conservation Area & Nature Preserve
- Sherman Minton Nature Preserve (co-owned by F&W and DNP)
Stucker Fork Fish and Wildlife Area
Tri-County State Preserve
Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area
DNR State Museum and Historic Sites
TC Steele State Memorial
DNR State Parks
Brown County State Park
Chain O’Lakes State Park
Clifty Falls State Park
Fort Harrison State Park
Harmony State Park
Indiana Dunes State Park
Lincoln State Park
McCormick’s Creek State Park
O’Bannon State Park
Pokagon State Park
Prophetstown State Park
Shades State Park
Shakamak State Park
Spring Mill State Park
Tippecanoe State Park
Turkey Run State Park
Versailles State Park
Whitewater State Park
- University Partners
Master Plan & Conservation Easement Reviews
All Dedicated State Nature Preserves (NPs) are established to protect the natural, cultural, historical, and geological features of the property, and all Master Plans state the purpose and intention of the Dedication. The primary intention for NPs are to protect and enhance the ecological value of the site, allowing for restoration of natural communities and areas, recreation and scientific study. Conservation Easements (CEs) are accompanied by land use restrictions, exist to limit land conversions and developments, and are often part of the process towards permanent protection.