Sycamore Land Trust

Preserving land and connecting people to nature


Sycamore Land Trust

About Us: Conservation, Education, Recreation

We created this video in partnership with Blueline to show what Sycamore is all about, and how you can be a part of the Sycamore community.

Our Vision: Sycamore Land Trust envisions a future in which southern Indiana has diverse and abundant habitat for native plants and animals, as well as clean air and water, working lands that are productive and sustainable, and people who embrace the connection between a healthy environment and our quality of life.

Mission: The mission of Sycamore Land Trust is to preserve the beauty, health, and diversity of southern Indiana’s natural landscape through strategic land conservation and environmental education.


What does Sycamore do?

Sycamore is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1990. As of August 2018, we have protected 106 properties totaling 9,404 acres. We have also been a partner in protecting another 10,138 acres with agencies such as the Indiana DNR and the Nature Conservancy.

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). In addition to owning land, we also steward the land by managing restoration projects. Learn more about land stewardship from a recent article in our newsletter, The Twig.

Sycamore also operates an Environmental Education Program that connects people of all ages to nature, including more than 5,000 people in 2017.

Contact us! View our Staff Directory.


Great Egret, photographed at Eagle Slough by Steve Gifford


Frequently Asked Questions


What is a land trust?

A land trust is a nonprofit organization that conserves land by acquisition or by holding conservation easements. Not all land trusts operate exactly the same, but in Sycamore’s case, we don’t just acquire the land and hope everything turns out ok. We manage active restoration projects, monitor wildlife and plant health, and build trails on certain public preserves for health and enjoyment.

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.


Why is land conservation important?

It’s no secret that climate change affects all of us. While the impacts seem to be increasing, people are coming together in great numbers to solve the problems we face. Land conservation is an important part of this response, because protecting nature is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy climate. Land conservation projects that are strategic about the types of habitats they protect can have tremendous impacts, such as:

  • clean water
  • healthy soil for farming
  • increased biodiversity, which strengthens ecosystems
  • more habitat options for endangered and protected species
  • healthy native plants for pollinators, on which our crops depend
  • clean air from mature forests
  • balanced ecosystems free from the effects of invasive species

Learn more about how we protect land.


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…


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.


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.


Find more answers here:

Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve on Lake Monroe. Photo by John Lawrence


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).