Our Story

Grand Lake Reserve: Photo by Jacob Sell Hicks

The Indian River Lakes Conservancy was formed in 1998 during a meeting of five couples around a dining room table on the shores of Butterfield Lake.  Henry Carse, a pioneering environmentalist and civic leader, inspired the creation of IRLC with his gift of the 28-acre Osprey Point Marsh on Butterfield Lake. It was not much, but it did have an active osprey nest on it and, most importantly, it was being conserved by the Indian River Lakes Conservancy. We put up signs and we protected that wetland like it was our first child.

In 2003, Carse’s second gift of 824 acres between Butterfield and Grass Lakes became Grand Lake Reserve. Now, twenty years later, we own and protect 2,277 acres of land, with over 13 miles of well-used trails. We have expanded our family in recent years, adding Redwood Hill Preserve and Baker Woods Preserve.

In 2016, IRLC finished construction on a solar-powered trailside classroom on Redwood Hill Preserve. More trails, including an “all access” trail through the woods on Redwood Hill Preserve, are in progress. 

Our Water Project is focused on improving the water quality in the Indian River and the 18 lakes in the Indian River watershed. In June 2018, IRLC will host an all-day water quality conference, and at least six experts will present on various topics.

JCC Hiking Club: Photo by Jacob Sell Hicks

We have maintained and expanded our staff which now includes an executive director. Our small but mighty staff demonstrates the IRLC’s continued professionalism and commitment to accomplishing its conservation goals.

In 2017, the IRLC earned Land Trust Accreditation which helped strengthen and solidify its base.  We reviewed and updated all our policies and procedures, we asked ourselves some tough questions and fixed some issues, we learned new skills, and refocused our efforts and our commitment.  In sum, we became more professional and better prepared. We are proud of our accomplishments to date

Our rapidly growing array of public events, educational programs, and opportunities to volunteer are increasing our friends’ and neighbors’ interest and involvement in making a real difference while having fun and protecting this special area that we all love


The dedication, hard work, and generosity of our community have assured the continuing success of the IRLC in the past 20 years. We appreciate your continued support and hope to see you at one of our upcoming events. Together we can all help protect the land and lakes we all love.




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