Glen Ayers was the first-ever monthly donor to Northeast Wilderness Trust, choosing to sustain the work of forever-wild conservation because of his love for old-growth and wild forests.
Meet Brett Engstrom, an ecologist, a Wilderness Trust board member, and a new monthly donor as part of the Forever-Wild Circle.
Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Stewardship Director, Shelby Perry, talked with Rewilding Earth about the ins and outs of how we work to rewild the Northeast.
Northeast Wilderness Trust is delighted to welcome Lillie Howell to the team. Lillie, a student at Vermont Law School and University of Vermont, joins us as the Wildlands Partnership Intern, helping to connect more land trusts with wilderness conservation.
Northeast Wilderness Trust is delighted to welcome four new members to our Board of Directors!
Every so often, we encounter a special wilderness champion whose passion for nature makes a very real difference in the lives of wild beings. Annette Dykema was just such a person. Annette passed away last December, but left a legacy that will last for generations to come.
Annette and her family spent summers and weekends at their property in Guilford, Vermont, connecting with each other and the land. The forested valley lay at the end of a dirt road, “For my mom, it was a big part of her; she knew every inch of that place,” said Alex Liston Dykema, her son.
Annette deeply cared about protecting any property she could; she had placed a conservation easement on her former property in Oregon. In the early 2000s, Annette began to explore conserving the Guilford forest surrounding her home. Annette’s wishes were for the valley to remain wild and unmanaged, but she had difficulty finding a land trust that was philosophically aligned with her personal land ethic. Alex, who is now an attorney for the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, began to do some digging and eventually came across Northeast Wilderness Trust. It was a match.
“The concept, for Mom, of being able to protect [the land] as a completely natural space forever was remarkable,” said Alex. Soon after Annette had placed a forever-wild easement on the land with Northeast Wilderness Trust in 2004, an adjacent parcel of land came up for sale. So she worked with her neighbors to buy it and raise the funds for the Wilderness Trust to place forever-wild protections on it. In total, Annette’s devotion to the wild protected 232 contiguous acres in Guilford.
Annette’s daughter, Martha Frost, will keep the land in the family. “My siblings and I were outside in all four seasons as kids,” noted Alex. “Mom’s eight grandkids each have a connection to this land—it is firmly rooted in all of us.”
In the 45 years since they have owned this land, the family has watched it evolve. In addition to seeing the forest itself grow older and wilder, they have seen moose and black bear come back to the woods. “The property really gave us a sense of what rewilding could do,” said Alex. “There was no chance we’d have seen moose or black bear four decades ago, and now they’re there.”
Annette’s generous spirit and warm heart will be missed. She has set an example of unfailing dedication to the wild. For that, we are grateful…and we’re pretty sure those moose and bear are, too!
Thank you as well to the donors who made a gift to the Northeast Wilderness Trust in memory of Annette Dykema. Together, you contributed $1,375 to wilderness conservation. Thank you!
Innovative partnership with Plymouth-based Map Academy introduces wilderness to local youth
“It has been really rewarding partnering with Joe and Northeast Wilderness Trust so far. There is a well-established benefit to getting students out in the field and making a tangible difference in their community.”
Lance Merritt, program partner and teacher at Map Academy
At the Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve in southeast Massachusetts, Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Joe Falconeiri has been spearheading a quiet effort to better connect local youth with a wilderness ethic through specialized programming.
In a partnership with the Map Academy of Plymouth, MA, students have joined Joe in the field to assist the Wilderness Trust in cleaning up the preserve and flagging old trails for closure and maintenance–the first step in a long rewilding process for this special property. Founded in 2018, Map Academy recognizes that learning is not limited to the traditional school day or the traditional school walls, and believes the high school experience should not be limited in those ways either.
In the first three months of this new partnership, seven students have joined their teacher and Joe on five different occasions. The founder of Map Academy, Rachel Babcock, attended the first session.
“It has been really rewarding partnering with Joe and Northeast Wilderness Trust so far. There is a well-established benefit to getting students out in the field and making a tangible difference in their community,” said Lance Merritt, a teacher at Map Academy. “In just a few visits, they have been able to see the impact of their hard work.”
Muddy Pond was conserved by the Northeast Wilderness Trust in 2018. At 322 acres, it is one of the largest privately conserved forever-wild preserves in the Greater Boston Area. Northeast Wilderness Trust is currently implementing a three-year short-term management plan to curtail illegal motorized trespass, clean up litter, decommission trails, and develop a long term wilderness management plan.
“A growing partnership with Map Academy is good for the Preserve and good for the future of wilderness in southeast Massachusetts,” says Joe Falconeiri, Southern New England Land Steward for the Wilderness Trust. “During work projects on the property, the students have been getting introduced to the concepts of self-willed land and why Northeast Wilderness Trust’s management style is different than most other organizations.”
As the partnership grows, programming will evolve to include ecological lessons and discussions on how the Preserve and wilderness, generally, enrich our lives—whether in an exurban setting like Kingston or in the furthest reaches of northern New England.
“Partnerships with groups like Map Academy will always focus on valuing and appreciating nature for nature’s sake. Northeast Wilderness Trust is firmly rooted in recognition that forever-wild landscapes have intrinsic value worth protecting…it’s part of the DNA of this organization,” said Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust. “But, we also celebrate wilderness’s many clear benefits to people.”
Moving forward, Northeast Wilderness Trust hopes to welcome Map students on a regular basis to work with Joe to steward the globally rare Coastal Plain Pond and Pine Barren ecosystems on the property. A primary goal is to offer students courses and research opportunities at the Preserve that can earn them credits at school.
In the next few weeks, Map Academy will be partnering with a local ecologist and botanist, Tim Simmons, to lead lessons and days in the field centered around vernal pools.
Programming like this was part of the vision when the Wilderness Trust took on this “pocket” wilderness, as it’s often referred to. Such wild forested pockets in an otherwise developed area are still places where nature can direct the ebb and flow of life and set the agenda. We hope Muddy Pond becomes a resource to the people of Kingston and Plymouth; a physical place to get to know wild nature and become part of the land community that is larger than any one of us. Northeast Wilderness Trust is excited to help foster a sense of place and pride in the local landscape, tied firmly to wilderness ethics, and to cultivate the next generation of conservation champions in southeast Massachusetts and beyond.
Would you like to volunteer to help us steward and rewild the Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve, or share your knowledge of local natural history with students and the public? Contact Joe Falconeiri to lend a hand at email@example.com or (802) 505-5594.