Indiana Wildlife Federation’s Sustainable Trails Program

In 2017, IWF certified the Urban Wilderness Trail (UWT) as the first sustainable trail in our program. The UWT is the ideal flagship trail for our new initiative. A publicly accessible trail running the along Fall Creek and the White River in the heart of Indy, it provides the opportunity to experience nature in the city, do some wildlife spotting, and enjoy the many colors of Indiana native wildlflowers. Since then, we have begun certification with Holliday Park, Brownsburg Parks, and the DePauw Nature Park.

The program was designed to encourage the development of trails into thriving habitat corridors that are easier to manage, offer a greater benefit to all trail users, and promote the conservation of local ecosystems through enriching human interaction with the environment. At the heart of the certification are four primary goals. First, to promote the conservation, enhancement, and restoration of wildlife habitat surrounding developed trail areas. Second, to provide the four main components needed by wildlife: food, water, shelter, and nesting space. Third, to preserve and enhance the natural diversity of Indiana’s habitats. This includes removing invasive plants from the ecosystem and replacing them with a diverse selection of native plants. Finally, to create an environmentally-friendly corridor that provides access to humans without compromising the activity of wildlife.

The certification program is very much a partnership between IWF and the certified property manager. We offer guidance during construction or renovation of the trails and assist with the implementation of improvements. For instance, on the UWT we planted 100 swamp white oaks along the river with about 20 volunteers. IWF also brings programming to the trail, such as the monarch tagging event we host annually in the grasslands on the UWT. Later this summer, we will be hosting a campfire hike along the trail with Indiana Humanities and exploring the connection between nature and literature.

For more information on the program or to discuss certifying your public trail, contact our Habitat Programs Manager, Aaron Stump at or by calling 317.875.9453.

Aaron Stump is a Habitat Programs Manager with the Indiana Wildlife Federation,