About

Conserving forever-wild landscapes for nature and people.

OUR APPROACH

At Northeast Wilderness Trust, we believe that wild nature deserves the freedom to flourish in its own right. Forever-wild lands are places where people take a step back from consumption and extraction and natural processes are in charge. In return, wilderness provides…

What is Wilderness? The etymological roots of the word wilderness mean “will-of-the-land.” Wilderness is self-willed land, a place free from human settlement and control, a place where natural processes direct the ebb and flow of life. Self-willed land. Howard Zahniser, the primary author of the Wilderness Act of 1964, intentionally chose to use the obscure word untrammeled in the law’s definition of wilderness: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” A trammel is something that impedes free movement. Untrammeled lands are not necessarily pristine but are free, unyoked from human dominion. In a similar fashion to Federally protected Wilderness, Northeast Wilderness Trust seeks to protect lands that are to remain largely untrammeled, to rewild.

Wilderness in a Northeast Context: Land conservation is a broadly inclusive activity. Some conservation projects focus on supporting human communities with a sustainable supply of forest and agricultural products (resource conservation). Others secure lands for wildlife to flourish unmolested and for ecological processes to unfold naturally (nature conservation). These two realms of conservation action are essential and complementary.

The Northeast Wilderness Trust works exclusively on the latter, but regularly partners with other land trusts that focus on conserving well-managed timberlands and farms. The bulk of land conservation work—about 97%—across the Northeast has been oriented toward conserving managed woodlands and farms, not natural areas. The Wilderness Trust was founded to help restore and preserve new wilderness areas on private land and to champion the wilderness idea.

Our Lands and Easements. Some of our Preserves are under active scientific study. Some have critical habitat for endangered or threatened species. Some are crossed by footpaths, where people can find solace while hiking, watching birds, or sitting quietly. All of these forever-wild places are allies in the fight to slow climate change, as they sequester and store carbon at a greater rate than timberlands.

While the Northeast has experienced an incredible recovery from the logging and agricultural practices of early European settlers, we are a far cry from knowing wilderness as a common feature of this region. Wilderness Society founder Bob Marshall, once spoke of “freedom of the wilderness.” A statement notable, for it is freedom—not the absence of human history—that is the defining attribute of wilderness. Indeed, on most of the land Northeast Wilderness Trust protects, one can find the remnants of past human activity, from stonewalls to mouldering settlements. The trajectory in these places is toward increasing wildness, letting natural processes and natural succession operate freely.

Northeast Wilderness Trust now protects 37,000 wild acres and counting.

WHO WE ARE

Northeast Wilderness Trust is a non-profit land trust, founded in 2002 by conservationists seeking to fill the vacant niche of wilderness protection in the Northeast. Our mission is to conserve forever-wild landscapes for nature and people. To date, we have protected more than 37,000 forever-wild acres across New England and New York. Our goal is to preserve at least another 25,000 acres of wilderness by 2025.

Staff

Board of Directors

Mark Anderson
President, Massachusetts
Susie O’Keeffe
Vice President, Maine
Jim Dehner
Treasurer, Massachusetts
CC White
Secretary, New Hampshire
Kristin DeBoer
Massachusetts
Brett Engstrom
Vermont

Carol Fox
New York
Daniel Hildreth
Maine
Rick Rancourt
Vermont
Henry Tepper
Massachusetts
Annie Faulkner, Board Emeritus
New Hampshire
Merloyd Ludington, Board Emeritus
New Hampshire

Advisors

Meade Cadot, PhD
Land Program Director Senior Naturalist, The Harris Center for Conservation Education
Stephen Trombulak, PhD
Professor of Biology, Middlebury College
Bill McKibben
Journalist and activist, Author of The End of Nature and Earth
Mike DiNunzio
Staff Ecologist, PROTECT the Adirondacks
Marc Lapin
Assistant Laboratory Professor in Environmental Studies, Middlebury College
George Woodwell, PhD
Woods Hole Research Center Founder

LIBRARY

Browse our Annual Reports, Wild Works series, Strategic Plan, and more.

Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

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Wild Works

Wild Works

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Research

Research

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Financials

Financials

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Annual Report

Annual Report

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EMPLOYMENT

Thank you for your interest in working with Northeast Wilderness Trust; we are not hiring at this time.

© The Northeast Wilderness Trust 2020    TERMS OF USE    PRIVACY POLICY

Learn more about our Green Guarantee.

NORTHEAST WILDERNESS TRUST
17 STATE STREET, SUITE 302
MONTPELIER, VT 05602

802.224.1000

CONTACT US   |   HUNTING PROGRAM

NORTHEAST WILDERNESS TRUST
17 STATE STREET, SUITE 302
MONTPELIER, VT 05602

802.224.1000

CONTACT US   |   HUNTING PROGRAM

© The Northeast Wilderness Trust 2020    TERMS OF USE    PRIVACY POLICY

Learn more about our Green Guarantee.

Biodiversity

In wild forests, an abundance of species thrive. Old trees, standing dead trees (snags), and woody debris create an incredible array of micro habitats for birds, bats, fungi, small mammals, and insects. Natural disturbances, usually in the form of storms and wind events, down trees and create tip ups, exposing new soil and creating variation in the forest floor. 

 

In addition, the Wilderness Trust seeks to protect all types of ecosystems. Low-elevation ecosystems are vastly under-represented in federally protected wilderness landscapes. This is because they are usually valuable for people, either for timber, agriculture, or development.

Resilience

Vast, interconnected habitats offer the best hope for species to survive and adapt to climate change as weather events become more unpredicatble, and temperatures rise. Wild, unmanaged lands support species even further by offering niche habitats, etc....

Carbon Storage

Old forests store immense amounts of carbon. Across the Northeast Wilderness Trust's portfolio of 37,000+ forever-wild acres, there are approximately 3 million metric tons of potential carbon storage.

As a forest's age increases, so too does the amount of carbon stored in its trees, plants, soil, and woody debris. And while many believe old-growth forests to be sources of carbon (giving off carbon into the atmosphere) there are more often carbon sinks and continue to absorb carbon even when they are centuries-old.

If we want to avoid the worst effects of a changing climate, we need to act now. Reducing fossil fuels won't do the job alone; we must use "Natural Climate Solutions." We must halt deforestation, regenerate damaged ecosystems, and practice proforestation--letting existing forests grow old and sequester carbon.

Solitude

Connecting with wild places, with awe and respect, is a deeply human act. Since the beginning of time, human cultures all across the globe have revered and honored wild places, often designating them the sites of spiritual, religious, or cultural connection.

At the Wilderness Trust, we believe that respectfully communing with nature is essential to saving it. Only if people witness and are able to learn about the kaleidescope of life forms we share this delightful planet with, will they be moved to protect them. So, while it's often easy to get bogged down by the grief of ecological destruction, we remember that every protected landscape is only here because many people spent years working to make sure that land was not developed.

The Wilderness Trust is dedicated to fostering and promoting careful and responsible experiences of wild places.

 

Jon Leibowitz

Jon Leibowitz has worked in the private land conservation field since graduating from Vermont Law School in 2011 with a Juris Doctor and Masters in Environmental Law and Policy. Before joining Northeast Wilderness Trust, Jon was the Executive Director of Montezuma Land Conservancy, where he worked to conserve farms, ranches, and landscapes of pinion/juniper, ponderosa, and sage on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, in Cortez, Colorado. Jon serves on the Rewilding Leadership Council, the Steering Committee of Wildlands & Woodlands, the Board of Vermont Parks Forever and is a co-owner of WildEdge Brewing Collective. He lives on the outskirts of Montpelier, Vermont, where he enjoys gardening, wandering the woods behind his house, and maintaining a questionable obsession with house plants.

Email Jon

Cathleen Maine

Cathleen joined Northeast Wilderness Trust in 2015 with two decades of nonprofit experience. She received her BA from Hawaii Loa College, now part of the Hawaii Pacific University system, and attended the School for International Training’s Master’s Program in Intercultural Management. She worked for almost a decade in Washington, DC on women’s health issues before relocating to Vermont with her family. Prior to that she spent seven years studying and teaching in Hokkaido, Japan. Her experience with public health has connected her to the mission of the Wilderness Trust. In her free time she enjoys living in Montpelier, reading, exploring, and cooking with her family.

Sophi Veltrop

Sophi comes to Northeast Wilderness Trust with a background in land conservation, communications, and outdoor and environmental education. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Washington University in St. Louis in 2013. Since then, she has worked at Vermont Land Trust, Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and Earthwalk Vermont. Sophi is committed to helping create a world where all species have the chance to survive, thrive, and evolve. Outside of work, she can be found roaming forests and rivers with her puppy, tending an ever-expanding garden, and cultivating community and creative practice.

Sophie Ehrhardt

Sophie coordinates the Wildlands Partnership program of Northeast Wilderness Trust, while pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law and Policy at Vermont Law School. Her desire to be involved with environmental policy at a local level and to spend as much time as possible outdoors led her to work with conservation land trusts.  Her passions for wilderness and wildlife, combined with a desire to play a role addressing the challenges of climate change, made Northeast Wilderness Trust a natural fit. Sophie has a Bachelor’s degree in Classics from St. John’s College and a prior career as an educator. In her free time Sophie enjoys paddling, walking among trees, and spying on birds. Indoors, she is obsessed with food, strategy games, and family.

Joseph Falconeiri

After receiving a BS in Education from Montana State University and then spending 15 years in finance in Boston, Joe decided to trade in his suit and tie for his true passion, conservation and natural science.  Since then he has served as a Ranger and Naturalist Interpreter with Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve while also lending to the Southeastern Massachusetts Pine Barrens Alliance.  He continues to pursue his mission to help people, institutions, and organizations become more keenly aware and connected to the social, economic, and environmental values that wilderness and open space bring into their lives.

Shelby Perry

Shelby joined the Wilderness Trust in 2016 with a B.Sc. in Environmental Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a M.Sc. in Plant Biology – Field Naturalist from the University of Vermont, and a deep love and respect for wild places.  She had previously spent two years documenting and advocating for wilderness in Wyoming’s Red Desert, and served terms in both AmeriCorps and the US Peace Corps, caring for conserved lands in the High Sierra in California and as a water sanitation engineer in West Africa, respectively.  When she’s not protecting and defending wilderness, Shelby enjoys exploring it either on foot or through photography, science, and artwork.