Carpenter Nature Preserve
Carpenter Nature Park Phase I is expected to open in late 2025/early 2026. The master plan will be developed over multiple phases as funding becomes available.
The Carpenter Nature Preserve (land that was formerly Wolf Run Golf Course) is a 215-acre nature preserve proposed by the Zionsville Parks and Recreation Department as a town and regional destination for:
- A new Nature Center
- Walking trails
- Nature-inspired playground
- Outdoor classrooms
- Eagle Creek overlooks
- Enhanced wetlands, woodlands and prairies
In the summer of 2020, Mayor Emily Styron joined then Deputy Mayor Julie Johns-Cole to tour the 200+ acres formerly known as Wolf Run Golf Club. Mayor Emily Styron later contacted two Zionsville residents with a love for nature – Jim and Nancy Carpenter – and together came up with a vision for the property. With a goal to preserve the land for generations to come, the Carpenters purchased the property in 2021 for $5.5 million. As interim owners, they took great care of the property, mowing the old golf cart trails, establishing bluebird boxes and planting experimental pollinator gardens.
Carpenter Nature Preserve Master Plan
While interim owners, the Carpenters worked with the Parks and Recreation Department, landscape architects and ecological consultants on a master plan, inviting the community to share their input. The plan focuses on creating a sanctuary for the public to enjoy wildlife and nature with enhanced wetlands, woodlands and prairies, along with boardwalks, a nature-inspired playground and Eagle Creek overlooks. The plan also includes Carpenter Nature Preserve as the future home for the Zionsville Nature Center.
Grants and Funding
With the completion of the Master Plan, the Parks Department worked to acquire grants to help make the preserve a financial reality. The department was awarded a $3 million reimbursable Next Level Conservation Trust grant, a $500,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for the first phase of development and $4 million in Indiana Stream and Wetland Mitigation Program credits to fund restoration work along Eagle Creek. Nancy Carpenter also helped establish the Zionsville Parks Foundation to raise money for the town’s parks system.
In May of 2023, the Zionsville Town Council voted to approve a $5.5 million bond to purchase the land from the Carpenters for the preserve and fund the cost of engineering, surveys and construction documents for the first phase of construction. After an updated appraisal, the Carpenters committed to a $1.5 million gift by selling the property to the town for $4.52 million.
Phase I and Next Steps
The first phase of the Carpenter Nature Preserve is expected to be completed by late 2025 or early 2026 with trails, an outdoor classroom, parking and restrooms. Today, a lot is happening behind the scenes. The Parks and Recreation Department is working to eliminate invasive species and enhance the wildlife habitat. Together with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, there are plans to improve Eagle Creek and its drainages running through the property for a healthier riparian waterway.
The Carpenter Nature Preserve Legacy
Carpenter Nature Preserve will be the...
- The first park in Union Township
- The largest preserve in Boone County
- The capstone to Zionsville Parks history