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Scott Starling Nature Sanctuary Wetland Restoration Project



The Center for Earth and Environmental Science is restoring a mosaic of relatively rare and biologically diverse groundwater-fed wetland systems in the Scott Starling Nature Sanctuary portion of Eagle Creek Park. The restoration is occurring in areas that were historically fen and sedge meadow. CEES has established a broad coalition of stakeholders that include professional staff at the City of Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation, university faculty and staff, wetland restoration professionals from Spence Restoration Nursery, JF New and Associates, university students, corporate and community volunteers, and citizen groups representing the Starling Nature Sanctuary as well as the area watershed task force.


We anticipate that 60-70% of the eleven acre site will be returned to wetlands and associated habitats. Site geophysical surveys and manual probing are being used to locate the old agricultural tile drainage network, which was installed by earlier settlers to drain the wetlands at the site. The tiles are then being targeted for removal.  Ten groundwater monitoring wells have been installed to monitor the level of the groundwater and track its chemical characteristics. As the hydrology is restored, site preparation will continue with the removal of exotic species and existing turf grass. And, as the hydrology is recovering, wetland plants are being returned to the site. All native plants re-introduced are of local genetic make up.  The remaining area will be allowed to establish its own ecological setting based on ground wetness, elevation, and relationship to surrounding vegetation communities.


The Scott Starling Nature Sanctuary is located at the north end of Eagle Creek Reservoir in Eagle Creek Park. It is situated in Pike Township of northwest Marion County on the Tipton Till Plain section of the Central Till Plain Natural Region of Indiana. READ MORE about the site location, history and setting...


As the site restoration proceeds, CEES is partnering with Indy Parks and Recreation to install educational signage with an associated trail and boardwalk system. Educational programming modules based on the research and restoration of the site are being incorporated into the Indy Parks and Recreation naturalist program and CEES outreach. CEES is additionally creating and serving a project web site with site information, research data and teacher curriculum resources. Restoring this rare and biologically diverse wetland type will increase biodiversity, provide a rich location for environmental education and awareness, and create an important area for nature appreciation by the citizens of Indiana.

Useful Links:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology - All About Birds