NORTHEAST WILDERNESS TRUST
17 STATE STREET, SUITE 302
MONTPELIER, VT 05602
info [@] newildernesstrust.org
Sweet Water Trust worked with conservation partners to protect the pristine waters and surrounding uplands at Fourth and Fifth Machias Lakes, Fifth Machias Stream, Amazon Brook and Big Musquash Streams in Downeast Maine. These efforts permanently protected over 18,300 acres including some 10,700 acres conserved by Downeast Lakes Land Trust and 7,600 acres added to the State of Maine’s ecological reserve system. These properties harbor many state-listed species and several exemplary ecosystems, including peatland and natural lakeshore communities. The extensive forested and wetland acres help maintain the ecological integrity of the Machias River, which contains habitat for federally endangered Atlantic salmon. The land lies within more than 500,000 protected acres in Maine, which in turn adjoin an even larger area of public land in New Brunswick, Canada. Conservation scientists consider this protected area large enough to maintain the conditions necessary for the long-term survival and adaptation of wildlife populations.
In this vast wilderness area, Sweet Water Trust supported nine major conservation projects, which cumulatively protect over 84,000 forever-wild acres embedded in 2 million acres of conserved lands. Among the highlights of these efforts are the spectacular ponds and mature forests in the 46,000-acre Debsconeags Wilderness Area, the towering peaks of Big Spencer and Big Moose Mountains, and the pristine waters of Katahdin Lake, Silver Lake, and the West Branch of the Pleasant River. Together these places contain old-growth forest, Eastern brook trout and Atlantic Salmon restoration streams, and habitat for far-ranging mammals such as moose, bear, bobcat, and endangered Canada lynx. The Forest Society of Maine, the Appalachian Mountain Club, The Nature Conservancy, and the Trust for Public Land spearheaded these critical projects.
Sweet Water Trust’s forever-wild projects in western Maine range from the heights of Mount Abram to the Moose River Bog’s Patterned Fen Ecosystem–Maine’s largest example of this rare natural community. In this region, SWT funded six exemplary projects totaling more than 67,000 acres, including NEWT’s Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve and Redington Wilderness Sanctuary. Earlier, SWT partnered with The Nature Conservancy to protect a 39,000-acre wilderness area along the St John River, 10,300-acre Moose River & Number Five Mountain, and 4,790-acre Moose River Bog. SWT also helped the Appalachian Trail Conservancy protect 4,000-acre Mount Abram. The Number Five Mountain project encompasses remote Heritage Brook Trout ponds and one of western Maine’s largest mature, intact spruce-fir-hardwood forests.
The rugged, mountainous 10,500-acre Vickie Bunnell Preserve is located in the northwestern New Hampshire towns of Stratford and Columbia. Purchased by The Nature Conservancy with major support from Sweet Water Trust, the Preserve is further protected by a forever-wild conservation easement held by Northeast Wilderness Trust. The Bunnell tract adds 15 square miles of high-quality wildlife habitat to a vast region of protected lands ranging from northwestern Vermont to New Hampshire’s White Mountains and beyond to western Maine. The Preserve contains the best remaining example of high elevation montane spruce-fir forests north of the White Mountains. Four thousand acres of high quality mature and old-growth forest have been documented on the property, which includes Bunnell Mountain’s summit (3,723 feet), 12 other peaks over 3,000 feet, and several rocky outcrop cliffs. The water features protected here include 28 miles of streams and the Cranberry Bog wetland complex. Several rare plants and birds, including Bicknell’s Thrush and American marten, are found here.
In the mid-1990s Sweet Water Trust stepped in to help protect the 732-acre Pioneer Lake Preserve. Over the following decade SWT helped protect an additional 5,600 acres in Stoddard and other nearby New Hampshire towns. After extensive efforts by Sweet Water Trust, all these properties are now in conservation ownership with an extra layer of protection through perpetual conservation easements. These wilderness lands lie within a much larger network of conserved lands in southwestern New Hampshire, where over 36,000 acres have been protected by land trusts, conservation groups, private individuals, and the State of New Hampshire. Closely studied by Dr. Rick Van de Poll and students at Antioch University New England, the Stoddard Lands support old-growth forests, over 387 animal and 451 plant species, numerous vernal pools, and other significant wetlands. Moose, bobcat, fisher, and mink roam this extensive mosaic of protected lands. Because of the significant work of conservation partners in the area, landscape-level conservation is being achieved here.
The privately owned Shingle Shanty/Thayer Lake Preserve’s forever-wild status is guaranteed by a conservation easement funded by Sweet Water Trust and now held by The Nature Conservancy. This 15,500-acre preserve is embedded in nearly one million acres of forever-wild state and private lands in the western Adirondacks. Notable for its high-quality boreal wetlands, remote ponds, and extensive northern hardwood forests, the Preserve is home to loons, bald eagles, osprey, American bittern, numerous hawks, moose, black bear, and other wildlife. The property also includes a rare sedge meadow and 45 miles of headwater streams feeding the Beaver and Moose River watersheds. The non-profit Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station carries out extensive ecological research and education on the property.
Sweet Water Trust gave major grant support to the permanent conservation of The Nature Conservancy’s 14,600-acre Follensby Pond property in the heart of the Adirondacks. This tract includes 1,000-acre Follensby Pond, more than 10 miles of undeveloped Raquette River shoreline, and abundant forests. Follensby Pond is one of only nine lakes in the lower 48 states with “old‐growth” lake trout habitat, sheltering a rare cold-water fish community. The watershed’s mineral-rich bedrock contributes to the high water quality of the lake and the great diversity of the surrounding healthy forest, which sustains an array of plants and animals—from maidenhair ferns to basswood trees, moose to black bear, Scarlet Tanager to Common Loon.
Sweet Water Trust worked with partners on both sides of the US/Canadian international border to ensure wildlife will always be able to move unhindered through the Northern Green Mountains. This transboundary linkage is critical for wildlife movement especially as the climate changes. Starting in 2001 Sweet Water Trust invested in this region with support for the Green Mountain Club’s 2,864-acre Black Falls conservation project in northern Vermont. Over the following two decades, with the Trust’s support, the Nature Conservancy of Canada conserved 10,000-acre Mount Sutton, as well as an additional 6,300 acres, to knit together the highly threatened forests of southern Quebec. Forever-wild protection in this region is essential to the well-being, and ultimately survival, of wide-ranging mammals such as moose, black bear, bobcat, and fisher, and also secures critical habitat for rare wood turtles and northern dusky and spring salamanders.
The Helen W. Buckner Memorial Natural Area at Bald Mountain is the largest and most ecologically diverse of The Nature Conservancy’s natural areas in Vermont. It supports some of the highest biodiversity in the state. The Natural Area hosts 65 rare or uncommon plant and animal species, 20 distinct natural communities, and the largest population of Golden-winged Warblers in New England. Peregrine falcons nest on the cliffs of Bald Mountain. This varied and scenic landscape, at nearly 4,000 acres, includes floodplain and upland forests, marsh habitat, three miles of undeveloped Lake Champlain shoreline, and wetlands along the Poultney River. The preserve also protects landscape connectivity for wide-ranging animals such as black bears and bobcats moving between the Green Mountains and Adirondacks. In 2009, Sweet Water Trust made a grant to expand the Preserve.
In its first two decades, Sweet Water Trust made more than 50 grants to safeguard critical lands in southern New England, primarily in Massachusetts. Altogether, Sweet Water Trust helped to protect over 6,000 acres in collaboration with 32 partner organizations, including the highlighted landscape below.
The Schenob Brook protected area encompasses over 2,500 acres in Massachusetts’ Southern Berkshires, safeguarded through the generosity of landowners and many donors, including Sweet Water Trust. This landscape is particularly notable for its extensive wetland complex on calcium-rich bedrock, providing habitat for many rare plants and animals.
Schenob Brook—along with other nearby properties protected with Sweet Water’s assistance—forms part of the Berkshire Wildlife Linkage. The linkage is an important wildlife corridor, home to wide ranging species such as black bear, moose, and bobcat. It is considered to be the most intact forest ecosystem in southern New England.
Photography, from top to bottom: Vickie Bunnell Preserve by Zack Porter, Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve by Harry White, Vickie Bunnell Preserve by Shelby Perry, Shingle Shanty by Stephen Langdon, Woodbury Mountain Wilderness Preserve by Jerry Monkman; Schenob Brook Wetlands ©Angela Sirois-Pitel/The Nature Conservancy