130-Acre Wilderness Sanctuary Created in NH

The Jack & Margaret Hoffman Wilderness Sanctuary was created this November to protect 130 acres in Francestown, NH as forever-wild.

Old-Growth Forest Network Honors Muddy Pond

Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve in Kingston, MA was the 107th forest to be inducted into the Old-Growth Forest Network on Saturday, August 22. Muddy Pond will be the representative forest of Plymouth County.

Wildlands Partnership Launches

Northeast Wilderness Trust has launched a new initiative to accelerate the pace of wilderness conservation across New England and New York. The Wildlands Partnership offers local land trusts the resources to work on wilderness conservation while receiving periodic income through a developing wilderness carbon market.

Duren Mountain Is Forever-Wild!

Ducks Unlimited transferred the Duren Mountain property along Route 102 in Guildhall to the Northeast Wilderness Trust, protecting 184 acres of wetlands and forest as forever-wild.

New Wilderness Preserve Created in Bridgewater

Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased 359 acres from Paedra Bramhall last week, creating the first privately protected, forever-wild preserve in the Chateauguay No-Town Conservation Area.

Wilderness Preserve Expands in New Ipswich

 

For more information, contact:

  • Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director: jon@newildernesstrust.org, 802.224.1000
  • Sophi Veltrop, Outreach Coordinator: sophi@newildernesstrust.org, 802.224.1000

For immediate release: February 7, 2020

New Ipswich, NH – The Northeast Wilderness Trust bought 47 acres of forest and wetlands from Shirley Sawtelle, safeguarding the last remaining unprotected shoreline of Binney Pond and a section of the Wapack Trail. The Wilderness Trust will manage this land as a forever-wild addition to its Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve, which it purchased in 2016.

The Sawtelle addition connects the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve to the Wapack Wilderness—a property owned by the Hampshire Country School and legally protected by Northeast Wilderness Trust.

“The Sawtelle Addition, while relatively small in size, is mighty in its impact,” said Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust. “It protects the final puzzle piece of Binney Pond’s shoreline, and is a critical linkage between two Wilderness Trust-conserved properties.”

With the addition of 47 acres to the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve, the entire shoreline of Binney Pond is now protected from development.

In total, a 1,963-acre landscape of unbroken wilderness is conserved by the Northeast Wilderness Trust in New Ipswich and Rindge. These Wilderness Trust lands abut a network of other private and public conserved lands, creating interconnected, diverse natural habitats that are needed by far-ranging species like moose and bobcat, both of which have been observed on the Sawtelle Addition.

“Northeast Wilderness Trust’s ongoing conservation of forever-wild lands in southern New Hampshire is part of a larger vision to secure a resilient New England landscape,” added Mr. Leibowitz. “In this region, wildlands and well-managed woodlands complement one another for the benefit of nature and people.”

Now that the Sawtelle property is protected as forever-wild, a connected corridor of 1,963 acres creates an expansive refuge for wildlife.

Mrs. Sawtelle wanted to preserve her property for its values to wildlife, including the beaver, heron, waterfowl, and amphibians that rely on the pond and its surrounding wetlands and forest.

“Nature is very important to my family,” said Mrs. Sawtelle. “We came to love it here because of the wildflowers and the animals…we’ve enjoyed the Wapack Trail tremendously.”

The 21.5-mile Wapack Trail, which leads from Mt. Watatic to North Pack Monadnock, the recently conserved property. The trail is maintained by the Friends of the Wapack, who partner with organizations like the Wilderness Trust to protect the lands surrounding it. Rick Blanchette, president of the Friends, has volunteered with the organization for 30 years.

“As a teen, I would climb Pratt and New Ipswich Mountains and wander the Wapack,” said Mr. Blanchette. “Adding this piece with the Binney property is huge—it’s just terrific to have it all done.”

In 2001, Jacob Varney and the Ashby Boy Scout Troop built boardwalks on Mrs. Sawtelle’s property. The boardwalks were Varney’s Eagle Scout project to improve the hiking experience without disturbing the natural flow of water or the fragile wetland soils. “That was just the best thing,” said Mrs. Sawtelle. “Everyone always uses them because the trail is so wet there.”


The Sawtelle parcel protects a short section of the 21.5-mile Wapack Trail, affording hikers views of Binney Pond and a pleasant meander along boardwalks built in 2001 by the Ashby Boy Scouts.

“From the boardwalks, one can see beautiful mountain laurels and herons in the summer,” said Mr. Blanchette. “I’ve encountered signs of moose on this land while hiking alone.”

The Friends of the Wapack are celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year. Only five miles of the Wapack Trail remain unprotected, and the Friends hope to accomplish this goal in the upcoming years. As for Mrs. Sawtelle, her 2020 goal is to hike from her house to Mt. Watatic for a picnic, crossing the newly protected trail en route.


About the Northeast Wilderness Trust

Founded in 2002, the Northeast Wilderness Trust conserves forever-wild landscapes for nature and people across New England and the Adirondacks. The Wilderness Trust owns Wilderness Preserves and Sanctuaries, and also protects land through legal means such as conservation easements. The organization currently safeguards more than 35,000 acres of wildlands in six states.

 

Wilderness Rebounds in the Heart of Kingston

 

For more information, contact:

For immediate release: January 20, 2020

Kingston, MA – In the center of the suburbs, Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve is offering a wild refuge for nature, wildlife, and people. The Northeast Wilderness Trust established the Preserve in 2018, and has been working to re-wild the land and connect students and residents with wilderness.

The Preserve sits at the northern reaches of the Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens. This forest type is globally rare, and found only in New Jersey, Long Island, and Southeastern Massachusetts and its islands. The Pine Barrens are dominated by pitch pine and black, white, and red oak trees. While Massachusetts’ Pine Barrens survived European settlement because their nutrient-poor soils were not suitable for agriculture, they are now very rare due to suburban development. Several species live only in the unique Coastal Plain Ponds of Southeast Massachusetts, and are critically endangered or threatened. 

Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve is home to a rare ecosystem that is home to diverse flora and fauna.

Looking Back

As locals know well, suburban sprawl has boomed south of Boston since the 1980s. Most of the original Pine Barrens have since been destroyed or broken up into fragments.

 “Plymouth County has lost most of its large, un-fragmented open spaces in my lifetime,” said Joe Falconeiri, the Southern New England Land Steward for Northeast Wilderness Trust. “In only a few decades, much of this globally rare ecosystem in our backyards has been forever altered and lost due to residential and commercial development.”

In 1995, Kingston was home to a stretch of unbroken forest totaling more than 2,000 acres. In the mid-90s, large developments began to eat away at its edges. And in 2004, Route 44 was built, splitting the forest in two.

South of the highway, the 322-acre Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve is one of the remaining pieces of that original forest. It is owned by Northeast Wilderness Trust, and is open for low-impact recreation like hiking, bird-watching, and nature study.

Although safe from development, the Preserve is only bordered by 200 acres of forest. Some is state and town land and some is protected by The Wildlands Trust. Yet the rest is private land under threat of development. The Preserve’s only connection to 775 acres of woodlands opposite the highway (including Camp Nekon and the Kingston Town Forest) is one concrete tunnel under Route 44.

Decades of construction have added up. Today, the Pine Barrens are small, separated pieces of diminished habitat. As the forest disappears, so do the opportunities to connect with nature and experience the native landscape.

Moving Forward

The Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve offers a redeeming glimmer of hope in that patches of these forests do still exist; they are not yet gone forever. Within the Preserve, the nearby hum of traffic is muffled by songs of frogs, birds, or crickets. In early spring, amphibians lay their eggs, wildflowers blossom, and turtles dig nests. Through the summer, rare and endangered plants found only in this kind of ecosystem emerge from the waters of Muddy Pond. They bloom as fall sets in, while birds stop by for a rest as they migrate south.

New England Boneset is an endangered species found only Southeast Massachusetts. It thrives at Muddy Pond and its population is being closely monitored.

Re-wilding is the practice of letting nature take charge. Joe Falconeiri is working with local schools and organizations to jumpstart the re-wilding process while teaching about wilderness values.

“When people visit Muddy Pond, they immediately decompress and become reconnected and centered within themselves,” said Falconeiri. “The social, political and environmental lessons Muddy Pond provide are profound for the community and region and these lessons will now be protected for future generations to come.”

Falconeiri works with residents to haul out trash, shut down old trails, and hang signs. More than 75 students have joined Northeast Wilderness Trust to lend a hand and enjoy the outdoors. Teenagers are becoming familiar with this native habitat as they gather data for biology class. Dozens of adults have joined hikes and volunteer days, too.

Volunteers help clean up litter in the forest surrounding Muddy Pond, in collaboration with the Wildlands Trust and Northeast Wilderness Trust.

These citizens are redefining the relationship between people and the environment. Rather than treating the land as a resource to be used and extracted, they approach it as a source of knowledge, excitement, and beauty.

Your Guide to Muddy Pond

Parking is located on Bishop’s Highway, one mile west of Route 80. To protect this precious landscape, visitors are asked to respect the Preserve’s rules: Hikers please stay on the designated trails, and keep dogs on-leash. Vehicles, bicycles, radios, fires, camping, hunting, fishing, and trapping are not permitted.

To learn more or inquire about volunteer opportunities and events, visit www.newildernesstrust.org or contact Joe Falconieri at joe@newildernesstrust.org


About Northeast Wilderness Trust

Founded in 2002, the Northeast Wilderness Trust conserves forever-wild landscapes for nature and people across New England and the Adirondacks. The Wilderness Trust owns Wilderness Preserves and Sanctuaries, and also protects land through legal means such as conservation easements. The organization currently safeguards more than 35,000 acres of wildlands in six states.