Conserving forever-wild landscapes for nature and people.


At Northeast Wilderness Trust we believe that wild nature deserves the freedom to flourish. On forever-wild lands people take a step back and natural processes unfold freely. The 64,000+ acres of wildlands safeguarded by Northeast Wilderness Trust are places where all species can thrive and evolve. And when we make a choice to protect wilderness, it offers incredible gifts in return:

What is Wilderness?

The root of the word wilderness means “will-of-the-land.” Wilderness is self-willed land. A wild place is one that is free from human control, where natural processes direct the ebb and flow of life. 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. At the Wilderness Trust, we like to say that wilderness is not simply a special kind of place, it’s a special kind of commitment we make to a place.  

Wilderness in the Conservation Context

Land conservation can take many forms. Some conservation focuses on supporting human communities with a sustainable supply of forest and agricultural products (resource conservation). Others secure lands specifically for wildlife, so that they can have peaceful homes where ecological processes unfold naturally (nature conservation). These realms of conservation are essential and complementary.

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.

Northeast Wilderness Trust’s 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 to listen to a brook or watch a sunset. 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.” It is freedom that is the defining attribute of wilderness—not the absence of people or human impact upon the land. Indeed, on most of the land Northeast Wilderness Trust protects, one can find the remnants of past human activity, from stone walls to decommissioned logging roads to mouldering settlements. But in all these places, natural succession operates freely, allowing ecosystems to heal, restore, and grow old.


Northeast Wilderness Trust is a non-profit land trust, founded in 2002 to fill the vacant niche of wilderness protection in the Northeast. Our mission is to conserve forever-wild landscapes for nature and people. Our small and dedicated team of conservationists is based in Vermont and Massachusetts, with a dedicated Board of Directors spanning the Northeast. Northeast Wilderness Trust protects more than 64,000 forever-wild acres across New England and New York.


Board of Directors


Meade Cadot
Harris Center for Conservation Education
Stephen Trombulak
Middlebury College
Bill McKibben
350.org & Middlebury College
Mike DiNunzio
Conservation Ecologist
Marc Lapin
Middlebury College
George Woodwell
Woods Hole Research Center


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

Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

Read the Wilderness Trust's Strategic Plan for 2020-2025, which is organized around four pillars: Protect, Connect, Champion, and Sustain....

Wild Works

Wild Works

Wild Works is an annual series written by experts in the field of wilderness conservation. The series showcases the many benefits of wildlands, for both nature and people....

Research and Essays

Research and Essays

Dive into the best scientific studies, poetic essays, and historic treatises supporting wilderness and protection of wildlands....



See IRS 990 Forms from the past five years and the Wilderness Trust's EIN....

Annual Reports

Annual Reports

Read stories, successes, and statistics from the Wilderness Trust's past few years of conservation work, accompanied by beautiful wildlife and landscape photography....


At Northeast Wilderness Trust, we take seriously the responsibility for wilderness conservation to be a welcoming movement for all. It’s the right thing to do. “Widening the Wild” is a four-part initiative to make strides towards diversity, equity, and inclusion in the conservation field.


Thank you for your interest in working with Northeast Wilderness Trust. We are not hiring at this time. To be informed of future open positions, you can sign up for our Enewsletter or follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.


In wild forests, a cornucopia of species can be found. Old and young trees, standing dead trees (snags), and fallen trees and branches (woody debris) create a mixed canopy and understory. This complex forest structure supports a myriad of niche habitats often absent from young and managed forests. 

The sheer amount of life—and death—is the secret to biodiversity in wild forests. Up to 30% of the biomass found in an old forest is made up of snags and trees in various states of decay. Decomposing logs host an abundance of insects, fungi, and slime molds. In some forests, a third of bird species live in cavities of old trees. Wild forests have also been found to have a higher density and diversity of species in studies on salamanders and lichen.


Vast, interconnected habitats offer the best hope for species to survive and adapt to climate change as weather events become more unpredictable and temperatures rise. 

In wild forests where soil is undisturbed, vast mycorrhizal networks help trees, especially older ones, “share” carbon with one another, even between different species.  These subterranean networks of fungi become more connected the older and less disturbed a forest is. They help forests react to and survive stresses such as drought or pests.  

In addition, complex habitats are resilient habitats. No matter the state of a forest when the Wilderness Trust first protects it, from that day forward, it will grow in age and complexity year after year, becoming more resilient as time goes on. 

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 it stores. It was once believed that old-growth forests were sources of carbon (giving off carbon into the atmosphere) but we now know that they are more often carbon sinks, continuing to absorb carbon even when they are centuries-old.

To avoid the worst effects of a changing climate, we must implement "Natural Climate Solutions." Legally protecting forests as forever-wild—sometimes called proforestation—is among the most cost-effective and efficient tools to combat climate change.


Reciprocity is the rekindling of humanity's affection for the riotous, wondrous wild. At its core, reciprocity is a visceral revelation of our interdependence with all the astounding entities of this planet.


Places where people may witness a kaleidoscope of beings evolving freely are integral to cultivating the will to preserve diverse, resilient ecological communities. When other life forms are honored for their own sake, and granted the freedom to flourish, the wonder of the natural world becomes increasingly palpable. Experiencing this innate awe can transform us, and inspire the wisdom and compassion needed to protect and pass on a vigorous, beautiful world.


Northeast Wilderness Trust is dedicated to the reciprocal act of offering our wild neighbors places where they may rest, recover, and thrive. The Wilderness Trust welcomes careful, responsible experiences of reciprocity with these cherished lands and waterways.

Jon Leibowitz

Jon has worked in the private land conservation field since graduating from Vermont Law School in 2011. Before joining Northeast Wilderness Trust, he was the Executive Director of Montezuma Land Conservancy in Colorado. Jon serves on the Rewilding Leadership Council, the Steering Committee of Wildlands & Woodlands, and is a co-owner of WildEdge Brewing Collective. He lives in Middlesex, Vermont, where he serves on the Planning Commission. He enjoys wandering the woods behind his house and maintaining a questionable obsession with house plants.

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.

Shelby Perry

Shelby joined the Wilderness Trust in 2016 with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a M.S. 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 on foot or through photography, science, and artwork. 

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 and Wild Carbon project. Her desire to be involved with protecting the forests and waters of the Northeast for all the species who reside there, and to play a role addressing the challenges of climate change, made Northeast Wilderness Trust a natural work habitat for her. Sophie has a Bachelor’s degree in Classics from St. John’s College and a Master's degree in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. In her free time Sophie enjoys paddling, walking among trees, and spying on birds. Indoors, she loves food, strategy games, and family.

Joe 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 supporting 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.

Erin Meiman

As the Operations Manager, Erin handles all of the administration for the organization. With a history degree from Miami University and an MBA from Northern Kentucky University, she has worked in non-profit management since 2000 when she escorted Peter, Paul and Mary to the concert stage at the Columbus Symphony. In that time, she has helped thousands of artists, educators and reformers by allowing them to ply their craft rather than worrying about whether the lights were going to be on or if there would be snacks. In her spare time, Erin loves to hike, kayak and curl up with her two cats. 

Tom Butler

Before joining the staff, Tom was a founding board member and past board president of Northeast Wilderness Trust. During his years working for the Foundation for Deep Ecology and Tompkins Conservation (where he serves as a board member) he's had the privilege to learn from some of Earth's leading wilderness champions. A former editor of Wild Earth journal, Tom is the author or editor of more than a dozen books including Wildlands Philanthropy,  Plundering Appalachia, Keeping the Wild, and ENERGY: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth. As Senior Fellow, he serves as the Wilderness Trust's ambassador for wild values, and while not in front of a laptop he spends as much time as he can exploring in his canoe.

Bob Linck

In his youth,  Bob formed an early connection with wilderness. At his family's Lynx Camp for Boys he led summertime wilderness canoe trips in the Adirondacks and Canada. During the school year, he witnessed the Hudson Highlands' beauty and their environmental degradation. Those experiences led him to earn a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from St. Lawrence University and an M.S. in Water Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin. Bob has worked for four land trusts, including serving as a Regional Director for 19 years at Vermont Land Trust. Devoting himself to expanding the forever-wild landscape represents the opportunity of a lifetime. Bob lives in Hinesburg, VT with his wife Leanne Klyza Linck, who has also devoted her career to wild nature. Their grown sons, Ethan and Garrett, also care deeply about wilderness.

Hannah Epstein

Hannah joins Northeast Wilderness Trust with a background in land stewardship and a lifelong connection to the northeastern landscape. After receiving her B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Vermont, she began her career as a land steward with the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire followed by the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. She has also worked growing and planting native trees and plants for restoration projects with the Intervale Conservation Nursery (Vermont) and the National Park Service (Nevada). In her free time, Hannah can usually be found exploring new places with her dog.

Nathaniel Williams

Nathaniel joined Northeast Wilderness Trust in 2022 after working in nonprofit development for several years. Since graduating with a B.A. from Cornell University in 2018, Nathaniel has worked as a grant writer for a mental healthcare provider and in grants management with GlobalGiving, a large international grantmaking foundation. Outside of work, he is an accomplished artist whose landscape paintings have been recognized for several awards. He enjoys connecting with the natural world through his painting practice, as well as through kayaking, hiking, and trail running. 

Alison Lesure

Alison will receive her J.D. with a concentration in food and agricultural law in May 2022. Prior to law school, she worked for over 10 years with leading international environmental nonprofits. Alison earned her B.S. in Environmental Conservation with a minor in Spanish from University of New Hampshire, and an M.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Western Washington University. She lives in Hinesburg, VT where she serves on the Hinesburg Land Trust board and volunteers at the Hinesburg Food Shelf. Her deep-rooted sense of place in New England fuels her commitment to community engagement and land conservation. She enjoys connecting to the land through gardening, beekeeping, cooking, playing music around the campfire, and adventuring outside with her partner and kids.

Mark Anderson

Mark is Director of Conservation Science for The Nature Conservancy’s eastern U.S. region. Mark provides science leadership, ecological analysis, and landscape assessment tools for conservation efforts across twenty-two states. His current research interests include ecological resilience, disturbance processes, geophysical landscape properties, and seafloor mapping. Mark lives with his family, two goats, three cats, one dog, occasional chickens, a visiting pair of barred owls, and a lot of trees in coastal MA.



Susie O'Keeffe

Susie lives in Montville, Maine. She holds Master’s of Science with distinction in Environmental Management from Oxford University, England. She serves as a Research Associate and Visiting Faculty at the College of the Atlantic. Her writing has appeared in Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture, the Maine Review, Naropa University’s Phylogeny, and the Spoon River Poetry Review. 

Vice President


Rick Rancourt

Rick is a CPA and he currently works as the controller of a fast growing tech company in Vermont.  Previously he worked for a large public accounting firm performing financial statement audits and other financial reporting services for various organizations.  Rick is a wilderness enthusiast who currently lives in Stowe, Vermont with his wife and son. 



Emily Bateson

Emily Bateson has worked for 40 years in environmental advocacy and land conservation, recently retiring as Director of the Network for Landscape Conservation, a North American leader in advancing collaborative conservation at the necessary landscape scale. Past positions have included: Coordinator of the New England Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative; senior staff at the Conservation Law Foundation; Associate Director of the Wildlands Program at Sweet Water Trust; and founder and first director of Two Countries, One Forest/Deux Pays, Une Foret in the Northern Appalachian/Acadian region of the U.S. and Canada. Emily lives with her family in Vermont and is also on the Board of the Adirondack Council. 


Kristin DeBoer

Kristin is the Executive Director of Kestrel Land Trust, which is dedicated to conserving, caring for, and connecting people to the wildlands, woodlands, and farmland of the Connecticut River Valley in western Massachusetts. Kristin has a BA in economics and environmental science from Bucknell University and an MS in Environmental Studies from Antioch University, and has worked in the environmental field for more than 25 years. Kristin lives with her family in Massachusetts.


Jim Dehner

Jim is the Executive Director for the Indiana Land Protection Alliance, serving the land trusts of Indiana. He has been in the land trust field for 30 years working for organizations including the Trustees of Reservations, the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, the Northeast Wilderness Trust, and was the Founding Board President for the Ashburnham Conservation Trust. He has taught graduate level courses in nonprofit management, and is currently completing his doctorate at Northeastern University. He holds BS and MS degrees in environmental science, and an MS in nonprofit management. Jim and his wife Vickie are avid hikers and walkers, have two sons, and residences in both Indiana and Massachusetts.


Rachel Drakon

Rachel Drakon is an Associate Analyst at Champlain Investment Partners, LLC in Burlington, VT. She holds a BS in Finance from Champlain College and is a CFA Level II Candidate. Originally from Bangor, ME, she has a background in grassroots conservation and rewilding efforts. An avid backpacker, Rachel spends her free time in the Green Mountains with her husband, Bill. 


Brett Engstrom

Brett is a consulting ecologist and botanist specializing in the inventory and mapping of wetland and upland natural communities, and the inventory of rare, threatened and endangered plants, in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Maine.  He has worked on many inventory projects in northern New England, especially Vermont and New Hampshire focused on inventorying a wide variety of natural communities, and rare, threatened, and endangered plants for a variety of clients. He also teaches workshops on natural communities and plant identification and was part-time faculty at Lyndon State College for ten years. Brett lives with his family in Vermont.


Carol Fox

Carol is General Manager, Global Accounting Firms, at Thomson Reuters in New York. She received a BA in Political Science from Yale University and an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. She is also a certified Master Composter. Carol spends much of her free time in the Adirondacks with her partner Phil Brown.

New York

Daniel Hildreth

Daniel is board chair of Diversified Communications, a family-owned trade media company based in Portland. Diversified produces trade shows and conferences for a variety of industries in North America, Europe, and Australia. Daniel currently serves on the board of Acadia Center, a clean energy policy and advocacy nonprofit, and on the Maine advisory board of the Conservation Law Foundation. In the past, he has also served on the board of Maine Audubon. He and his wife live in Falmouth, Maine.


Randy Kritkausky

PRandy Kritkausky is the president and co-founder of ECOLOGIA, an international environmental non-profit. ECOLOGIA projects have included: NGO development in "countries in transition" (former Soviet bloc and China), water monitoring, greenhouse gas accounting, corporate responsibility standards, and environmental remediation and restoration. After decades of approaching environmental issues through the lense of science, activism, and policy making, he recognized that spiritual grounding which encourages us to approach the natural world as our kin is a critical part of environmental problem solving. Randy is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, author of Without Reservation, and advocate for indigenous affairs.


Henry Tepper

Henry is a conservation consultant and an instructor in the Master's Program in Sustainability at the Harvard University Extension School. He has a background in land conservation and has played a direct role in the protection of almost one million acres around the world. Henry’s past work experience includes fourteen years at The Nature Conservancy, first as the Director of the New Hampshire Program and then as the Director of the New York State Program. Henry serves on the Board of Directors of Tierra Austral Land Trust in Chile. Henry holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. and Admission to Doctoral Candidacy from Cornell University. He lives with his family in Lincoln, Massachusetts.


Brian Tijan

Brian is an entrepreneur in the hospitality and insurance industries. Previously, he worked for Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse in their fixed income divisions. Prior to that, he was a finance attorney with Latham & Watkins. Brian lives in Underhill, Vermont with his wife and a menagerie of animals, and spends as much time as he can in the wilderness.


Paul Torrence

Paul Torrence was a staff scientist and Section Chief at the National Institutes of Health where he pursued research on antiviral and anti-cancer therapeutics from 1969 until 1999. He then became Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where he continued his research and teaching until 2007 when he was appointed Emeritus Professor. Paul has wandered in and defended wildlands from Alaska to Arizona and from New Hampshire to the Oregon coast. Since 2008, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Wilderness Land Trust. Paul resides in southwestern New York on the traditional lands of the O-non-dowa-gah (Seneca Nation).

New York

Annie Faulkner

Board Emeritus

New Hampshire


Annie is a founding board member of the Northeast Wilderness Trust, and served as President, Secretary and Treasurer during her 15-year tenure on the Board of Directors. She is a landowner with conserved properties in New Hampshire and Maine. Annie has worked as an environmental activist and writer, community organizer, and reproductive health researcher, educator and counselor. Annie likes to hike, ski, and camp in remote and/or high elevation terrain. She lives with her husband, Bob King, their two amazing teenagers, and two pets in a nicely converted woodshed in Keene, New Hampshire. 

Merloyd Ludington

Board Emeritus



In 2001, Merloyd Ludington joined a small, dedicated group of wilderness advocates in Boston to sound the bell for increased wilderness conservation in the Northeast. The group unanimously agreed that there was a strong need for a new land trust to fill this niche, and a year later the Northeast Wilderness Trust was born.


Merloyd served on the board of the Wilderness Trust for 15 years. She led the organization with her deep knowledge of the field, thoughtful insight, tenacious line of inquiry, and strong wilderness ethic for which we are deeply grateful.