SODALIS NATURE PARK
Sodalis Nature Park is the result of the combined efforts of the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA), Hendricks County Parks and Recreation, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to provide a home to the native species of Indiana. This unique partnership is an exception to the United States Fish and Wildlife’s usual prohibition against opening up wildlife preservations to the general public, as Sodalis is available as a recreational service for the residents of Hendricks County and beyond. Sodalis, in partnership with the IAA, strives to encompass the three values of recreation, conservation, and education.
With around 210 protected acres, Sodalis offers visitors many recreational opportunities. There are six trails in total, adding up to 3.5 miles. These trails take visitors through the woods surrounding the lake in the center of the park, around the picnic and pavilion area near the wildlife viewing platform, and deeper into the protected acreage. Visitors often walk their dogs through these wooded paths, as well as holding family picnics, or fishing at the lake. Both the fishing pier and the picnic area are ADA-accessible so everyone can enjoy what Sodalis has to offer.
Sodalis Nature Park resides within a 2000-acre conservation management area that protects important habitat for the Indiana bat, Myotis Sodalis, a federally-endangered species. This conservation management area and the Habitat Conservation Plan developed in 2001 to mitigate the impact of the new terminal and the federal highway interchange, aimed to improve bat habitat and create an uninterrupted corridor for bats to forage. For this effort, the IAA enhanced local wetlands, planted over 500,000 trees, and installed 1,000's of bat houses in an attempt to provide suitable roosting areas for the bats.
Though named after the endangered bat, Sodalis is a nature preserve for over 30 different species of animal throughout the year, providing them with a safe habitat and enforcing anti-disturbance rules, such as banning dirt bikes, to be sure that human visitors can enjoy the park without bothering the resident wildlife. Bees can also visit from the nearby apiary to pollinate Sodalis’ many native flowering plants and trees.
Informational displays scattered throughout Sodalis educate the public about local flora and fauna, including beaver and the Indiana bat. The park also hosts a number of nature programs concerning wildlife, fishing, hiking, and more, and holds a children’s fishing derby each June. Visitors can also come by once a year to build their own bat boxes to take home and create more available roosts in the area for the various species of bats.
Admission to the park is free, and anyone can visit from dawn to dusk every day.
Examiner.com. (2012, August 28). Sodalis Nature Park: Home of the endangered Myotis bat in Plainfield, Indiana. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/review/sodalis-nature-park-home-of-the-endangered-myostis-bat-plainfield-indiana
Indianapolis Airport Authority. (2011, May 12). Sodalis Nature Park marks unique collaboration between airport, Hendricks County, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region. Retrieved from http://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/401.html
Hendricks County Parks & Recreation. (n.d.) Sodalis Nature Park. Retrieved from http://www.hendrickscountyparks.org/index.php/your-county-parks/2-content/10-sodalispark