Land Trust report: Major gift earmarked for southwest Johnson County forested area

By Shawndra Miller / Communications manager, Central Indiana Land Trust

Nature is the beneficiary of a major contribution to Central Indiana Land Trust – a $1 million gift from Leonard and Kathryn Betley and their family in December 2021. The money is earmarked for reforestation and land protection in one of the state’s most biodiverse forested regions, the Hills of Gold Conservation Area.

The Central Indiana Land Trust currently protects 700 acres in this region of southwest Johnson County, with plans to increase the acreage under protection.

The gift also establishes an endowment for the conservation area, which encompasses the newly renamed Betley Woods at Glacier’s End. This 300-acre nature preserve lies just north of the Brown County border.

The Betley family’s gift represents a major win for the natural world, and indeed for all Indiana residents. With every acre of land protected and every tree planted, the wider community receives dividends – through cleaner air, filtered water, flood reduction, safe haven for wildlife, and climate change mitigation.

Betley Woods at Glacier’s End sits where a line of glaciers stopped their southward march thousands of years ago. The resulting mix of both glaciated and unglaciated land supports a surprising diversity of flora and fauna. Rare species found here include state-endangered timid sedge, federally endangered Indiana and Northern long-eared bats, red-shouldered hawk, hooded warbler and worm-eating warbler.

“When you have diversity of plants, you get a diversity of insects, and it carries on to mammals, reptiles, birds and so on,” said Cliff Chapman, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust.

He said the Land Trust is honored to receive this gift from the Betley family. “Their generosity and civic engagement have long been a guiding light to people who care about Central Indiana, and this gift ensures that their legacy will, literally, grow.”

Leonard Betley is a retired managing partner of the law firm Ice Miller and has served as board chairman of Newfields, Park Tudor and the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Kathryn has spent 50 years serving as a leader on boards of organizations including Newfields, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Indiana chapter of The Nature Conservancy and more. She served as a trustee of Indiana Energy.

Betley Woods at Glacier’s End is not currently open to the public, but the land trust has received a grant to build a publicly accessible trail there. Meanwhile, the nearby Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow, also part of this conservation area, is open to explore. Blossom Hollow boasts similar terrain and diversity of plants and animals.

Headquartered on the Old Northside, the Central Indiana Land Trust stewards nature preserves throughout the central third of the state. Find more information about CILTI and its nature preserves at

PHOTO ABOVE: Betley Woods at Glacier’s End is a 300-acre nature preserve which lies just north of the Brown County border. PHOTO BY DICK MILLER