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Yes, the Indiana Brown Bat is a protected species. The Town of Plainfield continues to work collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife on habitat protection areas.
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The Town of Plainfield closed on 1,800 acres of land in 2018 near the Indianapolis International Airport (IND). The Indianapolis Airport Authority announced their interest in selling the land in 2015 as part of their Land Use Initiative to return non-aviation land back to the surrounding communities and local tax rolls. Nearly three years later, the Town of Plainfield took control of the land with a vision of a world-class conservation area, while also achieving adjacent economic development.
The Town of Plainfield paid for the land, which includes protected wetland areas as well as critical habitats for the endangered Indiana Brown Bat and other animal and plant species. The land included the Sodalis Nature Park, which features nature trails, picnic areas and a 5.5-acre pond for public use. Ever since the Town acquired the land, there has been interest inn improving the recreational amenities in the area.
While more than 1,700 acres of the land is protected and reserved for conservation, more than 140 acres is unrestricted and available for other uses.
The Plainfield Nature Park Master Plan is a working document and staff will continue to study uses for the land. Leaders are interested in creating a regional park, similar to McCormick’s Creek State Park located in Spencer, Indiana, which will highlight the nature of the land and preserve the endangered Brown Bat.
While Sodalis is a park and shelter can be rented through the Plainfield Parks and Recreation Department, by calling 317-839-7665, the Department of Public Works manages the park and land. Although the land is owned by the Town of Plainfield, the area is not open to the public at this time and Sodalis is the only open area in this region.
As of February 2020, the Plainfield Nature Park committee is in Stage II of the planning stage and will continue to work on a Master Plan until 2021. The entire area will be developed according to the plan over 10 years, or so. Continue to monitor the project page for updates.
The adjacent land surrounding the potential nature preserve could be open to development as early as 2021, it is vital in developing a financial revenue stream to support the vision and implementation of the Nature Preserve Park Master Plan. Those developments will ultimately help the Town pay for management of the nature preserve.
Development is expected to be a part of a TIF District and the tax dollars collected from those parcels will specifically go into the nature preserve.