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COMMUNITY CONSERVATION, REWILDING

Ambassador Preserves: Places to Rewild the Mind

Many who care deeply about wilderness conservation face a paradox. How do we nurture a relationship with wild nature without “loving it to death,” as evidenced by crammed parking lots and busy trailheads in the Adirondacks, the White Mountains, and Acadia? How do we help foster a profound connection to—and compassion for—the larger web of life to which we belong, while still allowing sensitive species the freedom to live undisturbed by human impact?

While there are no simple answers, Northeast Wilderness Trust established Ambassador Preserves as a way to respond to this quandary. An Ambassador Preserve is a representative landscape for wild nature, where a small parking area, kiosk, and footpath allow for easier access—always designed with preserving the land’s wild character as the top priority. Currently, the Wilderness Trust has four Ambassador Preserves:

  1. Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve (Kingston, Massachusetts)
  2. Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve (Atkinson Township, Maine)
  3. Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve (Chesterfield, New York)
  4. Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve (New Ipswich, New Hampshire)

In coming years, Ambassador Preserves will be established in Connecticut and Vermont as well.

Above, hikers learn about a vernal pool at Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve in Massachusetts and discover an abundance of green frogs.

At Ambassador Preserves, in-person activities and interpretive materials engage people with the philosophy and experience of wild places. Kiosks welcome visitors and depict the process of a young forest maturing into an old-growth forest, or in the case of Muddy Pond, showcase a rare ecosystem. New Rewilding PhotoPoints allow visitors to take photos to help capture and monitor how these wild landscapes naturally evolve over time.

In contrast, other Preserves and Sanctuaries owned by the Wilderness Trust are not designed for recreation, even though they are open to the public for respectful visitation. They are places where nature reigns, and people are mere visitors who must meet the steep slopes, buggy bogs, or thick ranks of spruce on the land’s terms, not theirs.

To learn more about Ambassador Preserves and other wildlands protected by Northeast Wilderness Trust, visit www.newildernesstrust.org/places

Above, supporters of the Sawtelle Addition to Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve in New Hampshire experience the rewilding meadow that was formerly a log landing. Now that the land is protected, it will slowly reforest.

This article was originally published in Northeast Wilderness Trust’s 2020 Annual Report. Click here to read the report online, or sophi [@] newildernesstrust.org to receive a hard copy by mail.

Photography: Muddy Pond by Natalia Boltukhova, Binney Hill by Paul Willis