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Northeast Wilderness Trust acquires key acreage within Adirondack Park’s Five Ponds Wilderness

Township of Webb, NY…Northeast Wilderness Trust announced that it has purchased a key inholding in the Adirondack Park’s Five Ponds Wilderness, establishing the Bear Pond Forest. Northeast Wilderness Trust is a regional land trust that protects more than 73,000 forever-wild acres in New England and New York. With this acquisition, the 1,056-acre Bear Pond Forest is now safeguarded from potential lakeshore development and logging, and the Forest will gradually be integrated into the surrounding wilderness.

Bear Pond Forest sits in the middle of the 130,000-acre Five Ponds/Pepperbox wilderness complex, within New York’s Adirondack Park, the largest protected area in the lower 48. Bear Pond Forest had been managed for decades for timber production and recreation. One of the three private hunting camps on the property will continue as a lessee for a period of ten years. Under Northeast Wilderness Trust’s ownership, this forested landscape, with substantial frontage on three ponds and miles of streams, begins the process of rewilding, today. Rewilding happens naturally with forever-wild protection, offering the land time and freedom to mature, store carbon naturally, and increase biodiversity.

The Last Puzzle Piece

Bear Pond Forest has long been a conservation priority. Various conservation organizations have approached the owners to conserve the land over the years. When the property was listed for sale in 2022 it prompted a new round of interest. Open Space Institute initiated conversations with the landowners and in late 2022 Northeast Wilderness Trust took the reins and raised the funds to purchase the property in less than three months.

“Open Space Institute has had its eye on this property for a long time given its prime location inside the park and its conservation context. Bear Pond Forest is a treasure and was a missing piece of the puzzle given the timber harvesting that did not conform with the surrounding landscape—one of the great wilderness areas in the Adirondacks. We are pleased to have gotten this project off the ground and thrilled that Northeast Wilderness Trust got the deal done,” Kim Elliman, president and CEO of Open Space Institute, said.

The Five Ponds Wilderness is a vast untrammeled landscape. Towering white pines adorning glacial eskers, expansive wetlands, meandering rivers, abundant wildlife, and a lack of notable mountains best defines this wild place in the western Adirondacks. It is famous among tree lovers as home to the largest contiguous tract of primary forest in the Northeast.

Returning Wildlife Together

The western Adirondacks are a likely candidate for long missing wolves and cougars to return home to the Northeast via natural dispersal. William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, shared, “With some of the lowest human population density in the East, and in close proximity to the Algonquin to Adirondack Corridor (A2A), this would be among the most welcoming places for large carnivores to repopulate parts of their former territory. Conserving Bear Pond Forest as forever-wild and removing the chance of permanent development in the heart of the Five Ponds incrementally supports wolves and cougars reinhabiting their native range.”

The Wilderness Trust is developing a management plan for the property. Access will eventually include activities such as walking, birding, paddling, hunting of abundant prey species, and other non-mechanized exploration.

“We are thrilled the Bear Pond Forest is being permanently protected,” Kayla White, Board of Directors Chair, Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, said. “This is an incredible accomplishment, and we applaud Northeast Wilderness Trust for purchasing this long-sought-after inholding. It will fill a hole in the Five Ponds Wilderness, one of the grandest protected landscapes in the Adirondack Park, providing a boon for the pond’s fishery and all the wildlife that depend upon large tracts of unbroken forest. In particular, paddlers exploring the Wilderness Lakes Canoe Carry will appreciate the expanded access to Bear Pond — as well as the newly-opened links to other nearby ponds.”

The 107,230-acre Five Ponds Wilderness and the 23,816-acre Pepperbox Wilderness are part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Together they provide some of the most remote wilderness in the Adirondacks, as relatively few trails access these lands. Wildlife found in this area include moose, black bears, beavers, coyotes, loons, and more. “Ensuring that the Bear Pond Forest inholdings did not permanently become private lakeshore development allows more space for nature to flourish,” said Bob Linck, Conservation Director at Northeast Wilderness Trust.  “Having had a life-long connection to the Adirondacks, it is an honor to work with our partners to add more forever-wild lands to the Adirondack Park.”

For more details on Bear Pond Forest, please go to

About Northeast Wilderness Trust:  Northeast Wilderness Trust is a regional land trust that focuses exclusively on protecting wilderness areas—lands permanently protected as forever-wild, where natural processes direct the ebb and flow of life. With its headquarters in Vermont, staff in multiple states, and board members across the Northeast, the Wilderness Trust ( protects more than 73,000 acres in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Photography courtesy of Open Space Institute