Conserving forever-wild landscapes for nature and people.

A line sketch of a brown pinecone.


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 73,854 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:




Carbon Storage


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 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.

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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 73,000 forever-wild acres across New England and New York.


A photo of Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director.
Jon Leibowitz
Executive Director
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A photo of Cathleen Maine, Development Director.
Cathleen Maine
Development Director
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A photo of Shelby Perry, Wildlands Ecologist.
Shelby Perry
Wildlands Ecologist
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A photo of Sophi Veltrop, Outreach Manager.
Sophi Veltrop
Outreach Manager
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A photo of Sophie Ehrhardt, Carbon Specialist.
Sophie Ehrhardt
Carbon Specialist
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A photo of Joe Falconeiri, Southern New England Land Steward.
Joe Falconeiri
Southern New England
Land Steward
A photo of Erin Meiman, Operations Director.
Erin Meiman
Operations Director
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A photo of Tom Butler, Senior Fellow.
Tom Butler
Senior Fellow
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A photo of Bob Linck, Conservation Director.
Bob Linck
Conservation Director
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A photo of Hannah Epstein, Stewardship Manager.
Hannah Epstein
Stewardship Manager
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A photo of Nathaniel Williams, Development Coordinator.
Nathaniel Williams
Ext. 110
A photo of Caitlin Mather, Land Protection Manager.
Caitlin Mather
Land Protection Manager
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A photo of edit+xClone Element Nadine Canter, Communications Director.
Nadine Canter
Communications Director
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A photo of Becky Clough, Northern New England Land Steward.
Becky Clough
Northern New England
Land Steward
A photo of Tom Garback, Digital Media Intern.
Tom Garback
Digital Media Intern
Eric Bailey
Wildlands Ecology Fellow

Board of Directors

A photo of Mark Anderson, President Massachusetts.
Mark Anderson
A photo of Susie O’Keeffe, Vice President Maine.
Susie O’Keeffe
Vice President
A photo of Rick Rancourt, Treasurer Vermont.
Rick Rancourt
A photo of Brian Tijan, Secretary Vermont.
Brian Tijan
A photo of Emily Bateson, Vermont.
Emily Bateson
A photo of Kristin DeBoer, Massachusetts.
Kristin DeBoer
A photo of Brett Engstrom, Vermont.
Brett Engstrom
A photo of Carol Fox, New York.
Carol Fox
New York
A photo of Daniel Hildreth, Maine.
Daniel Hildreth
A photo of Randy Kritausky, Vermont.
Randy Kritkausky
A photo of Henry Tepper, Massachusetts.
Eric Sorenson
A photo of Henry Tepper, Massachusetts.
Henry Tepper

Paul Torrence
New York
Annie Faulker Headshot
Annie Faulkner
Board Emerita, New Hampshire
A photo of Merloyd Ludington, Board Emerita, 1932-2022.
Merloyd Ludington
Board Emerita, 1932-2022
Brian Tijan
Paul Torrence
New York
Annie Faulker Headshot
Annie Faulkner
Board Emerita, New Hampshire
Jon Leibowitz
Executive Director
Cathleen Maine
Development Director
Sophie Ehrhardt
Wildlands Partnership Coordinator


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

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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....

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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 the Wilderness Trust’s effort to make strides towards diversity, equity, and inclusion in the conservation field.

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

Sweet Water Fund

After thirty years creating an expansive wild legacy, Sweet Water Trust has become the Sweet Water Fund. The Fund will result in more forever-wild conservation across the Northeast.

Sweet Water Fund

After thirty years creating an expansive wild legacy, Sweet Water Trust has become the Sweet Water Fund. The Fund will result in more forever-wild conservation across the Northeast.