Sycamore Land Trust

Preserving land and connecting people to nature


Sycamore Land Trust

About Us: Conservation, Education, Recreation

Cedar Crest, SLT's home

Sycamore’s scenic headquarters lives the mission: it’s located on 12 protected acres. Photo by Patrick Petro.

Sycamore Land Trust protects and restores the beautiful natural heritage of southern Indiana. Our nature preserves offer opportunities for outdoor recreation and environmental education.

Sycamore is a regional non-profit organization founded in 1990. As of January 2016, we have protected more than 90 properties totaling nearly 9,000 acres.

We protect land through ownership or holding conservation easements to limit harmful uses while allowing land to remain in private ownership (for details, see Preserve Your Land). Sycamore also operates an Environmental Education Program that connects people of all ages to nature.

Learn more about Sycamore in our Snapshot (PDF).

Contact us! View our Staff Directory.


Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a land trust?

A land trust is a nonprofit organization that conserves land by acquisition or by holding conservation easements. Land trusts are currently the fastest growing segment of the conservation community, with over 1,700 land trusts across the U.S. The Land Trust Alliance serves as an umbrella organization for land trusts, and Sycamore Land Trust is a member of the Alliance.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows the landowner to continue to own and use his/her land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs, with the restrictions in place. More details…

Are your properties open to the public?

Many of our preserves are indeed open to the public! You are welcome to visit many of the properties we own, which are listed here. The properties that we protect via conservation easement remain in private ownership and are not open to the public.

Click to enlarge.

What areas does Sycamore cover?

Our service area includes 26 southern Indiana counties, from Martinsville down to the Ohio River, and from Vincennes in the west to New Albany in the east. For land trusts serving other areas of Indiana, see our Indiana Land Trusts page.

Do I have to own land to be part of Sycamore Land Trust?

This is a common misconception. Sycamore Land Trust is for everyone! The basic idea behind a land trust is that I can’t buy 1,000 acres by myself, and chances are neither can you. But 1,000 of us together can. People from across the political spectrum and of varying financial means are critical in helping Sycamore protect more greenspace for us all to enjoy. Learn more about becoming a member for just $40 a year.

Where do you get the funds to protect land?

Our members are the primary source of funding for our work! Your donations are critical for acquiring land and performing ongoing stewardship for the land we already protect. We also tap into foundation grants and special matching funds for land acquisition from government, but our members are our most important ongoing source of funding. Check out our annual Impact Report for more details on Sycamore’s efficient use of funds. You can find our EIN and other financial info here.

How can I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved with Sycamore Land Trust! You can attend a hike or other event to meet like-minded folks. We have a wide range of volunteer opportunities, such as working outside to maintain our preserves, helping with mailings and other tasks at our beautiful office in the woods, photography, and events. You can also get involved by visiting our preserves and taking along friends to show them what Sycamore does. Last but definitely not least, become a member! As mentioned above, individuals and families are essential to our work, so you’ll be making a direct impact on this beautiful place we call home.

How do landowners find out about Sycamore?

Most landowners come to us via the Internet or word of mouth. There are also many cases where we reach out to people who own particularly high quality land or land near our existing preserves, just to let them know they have options if at some point they are interested in preserving their land.

How does Sycamore decide which properties to protect?

Sycamore protects many different types of land. Each property is evaluated individually after careful consideration of its resources and qualities. Depending on the property, sometimes one factor alone is significant enough to merit protection, such as critical habitat for rare and threatened wildlife or plants. Other times several factors contribute to the property’s conservation value. Generally, we consider whether a property:

  • includes important natural habitat for wildlife and plants, or buffers important habitat.
  • is in a relatively natural, undisturbed condition.
  • is adjacent or close to land already protected by Sycamore.
  • is adjacent or close to public land or other permanently protected private land.
  • is in active farming or other agricultural use.
  • includes or protects a significant river, stream or wetland.
  • is large enough that its conservation values will likely remain intact despite possible future changes in adjoining land use.


Cedar Crest scrapbook

Our office is located in a beautiful house donated by Lynton K. and Helen Caldwell. Photos and stories of Cedar Crest are featured in this scrapbook (click to view).