Natural Resources

    Lend a hand. Park Stewardship

    Natural Resources

    The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land where food and habitat grows all have one thing in common: They are natural resources and without them, we would not survive. We depend on these not only as basic needs for survival but also for our economy. The allocation of our natural resources is a very important factor in balancing the supply and demand within our economy as well as conserving for future generations.

    Natural Resource Management

    Here at Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, we understand the importance of natural space. We strive to maintain our parks as a healthy and sustainable home for flora and fauna—our local plants and animals—and a natural space for all of us to enjoy.

    To ensure our parks get the attention they need, we have a team dedicated to monitoring and maintaining the requirements of our parks. Day in and day out, our Parks & Natural Resources Team is on the frontline of stewardship for our parks. They manage everything from the roads and trails to the drinking fountain and restroom amenities while focusing on the overall wellbeing of the park systems. Keeping clean grounds expresses how we value the land and ultimately affects the overall health of each ecosystem.

    Each park has varied needs. We follow unique management plans established to keep the team on track for properly caring for our properties. There is a lot of factors that go into managing land! We look at the history of the area, what it used to be and what it is now, to make sure our management plans will be sustainable. We also look at many other features of the land including the soil, topography, and surrounding property. Based on these assessments, we can evaluate the appropriate plant communities that are commonly found in an area as well as avoid plants that do not belong. One of our top priorities is ensuring appropriate plants establish and thrive on our properties so they can serve as the foundation for lasting habitat.

    Water Quality Monitoring

    Citizen Science volunteers monitor the water quality of Cool Creek, Carmel Creek, and Bear Creek throughout the year with tests like pH, turbidity, flow and macro-invertebrate counts. The tests results are uploaded to the Hoosier Riverwatch website, where you can compare water quality data from streams in our parks across the White River watershed and the whole state.

    Hamilton County Indiana Natural History

    Indiana has a rich natural history! Around 70,000 years ago the Ice Age began and brought the first glaciers to shape our state. Over the last several thousand years, different glacial periods affected our state including the Illinoian glacier period and Wisconsin glacier period. As these glaciers receded and melted, runoff formed rivers and streams. White River is a perfect example of this with gravel beds at the bottom of the river where glacial deposits, called till, were transported through the ice sheets, dropped out, and ended up right here in Indiana.

    After the glaciers receded, Hamilton County became predominantly a hardwood forest. Oak, maple, tulip, walnut, and beech trees grew. There were a few prairies and bogs through the state, but a majority was forested habitat. Bear, wolves, deer, and elk roamed the land.

    The very first people to come to this area were thought to arrive around 10,000 years ago following the game migrating through. Several tribes and native people moved through the area before European settlers arrived, with William Conner being the first to settle in the early 1800s, building his first cabin at Conner Prairie. As settlers arrived, they began to clear forests and build infrastructure. Roads, establishments, and townships were formed. Much of the forest that was here in Hamilton County was logged and drained to support infrastructure and agriculture for the growing population.


    Rivers and creeks are the products of glaciers melting and receding thousands of years ago. Today, these rivers and creeks hold a strong foothold in our ecological system.

    What is a watershed?

    A watershed is the area of land that helps channel water through creeks, streams, and rivers eventually leading into the same body of water. All our actions upstream, whether good or bad, affect the downstream flow. Here in Carmel, everything we do within our watershed will affect the White River, Wabash River, Ohio River, Mississippi River, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

    Our community is part of the Upper White River Watershed. Our parks align with 3 active corridors of this watershed.


    Learn More Here

    Different Ecosystem Types

    There are several ecosystem types in Indiana, and you can explore some of these ecosystems in your Carmel Clay parks.