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Celebrating and Continuing the Wildlands Partnership

Over the past two years, the vision for a wilder future was bolstered significantly by the Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Wildlands Partnership. The Partnership, established in 2020 in collaboration with Sweet Water Trust and Wildlands & Woodlands, has permanently protected 8,954 acres spanning New York, Connecticut, and Maine. The Wilderness Trust has opened up a new round of applications for land trusts to propose projects for Wildlands Partnership funding by June 15, 2023. We are excited to begin a new phase of collaborations to build upon this momentum.

To learn more and apply, click here.

Questions? Please contact Caitlin Mather, Land Protection Manager, at 802 224-1000 ext. 112 or caitlin [@]

Collaborating for a wild world

In the first round of Wildlands Partnership projects between 2020-2023, five land trusts worked with Northeast Wilderness Trust to protect 8,954 acres.

Through the Partnership, local land trusts across the Northeast can engage in forever-wild conservation by receiving financial assistance and capacity support. Land trusts apply for funding to support new land acquisitions, which then gain a forever-wild easement. Land trusts may also apply to further protect existing preserves with a forever-wild easement through the program. Northeast Wilderness Trust, as a committed partner and steward, will hold the forever-wild conservation easement. By participating, land trusts gain this durable, additional legal protection and also have the option to enroll newly protected forever-wild lands in the Wildlands Carbon program.

Wildlands Partnership 2020-2023: Meet the forever-wild places


Frenchman Bay Community Forest

Frenchman Bay Conservancy | 1,435 acres in Hancock, Maine

Not far from downtown Ellsworth, this large forest facing high development pressure is now assured of a wild future. Its young forest is rewilding, and is complemented by an adjacent 3,100 acres protected by New England Forestry Foundation. The Downeast Sunrise Trail runs through the land, allowing many people to experience how a forest with recent, active management can rewild in real time.

Whalesback Easements

Frenchman Bay Conservancy | 3,307 acres in Aurora, Maine

Within the Union River watershed, two forever-wild conservation easements on privately owned land cumulatively protect 3,307 acres. The Whalesback easements are co-held by Northeast Wilderness Trust and Frenchman Bay Conservancy. The Whalesback name comes from the glacial esker nearby, whose rocky slopes left behind by glacial streams resembles a whale surfacing from the earth. The easements protect six miles of the Union River’s Middle Branch, two miles of Beaver Brook, and nearly three miles of Sevenmile Brook.

A stream runs through Frenchman Bay Community Forest. Photo by Jerry Monkman/Ecophotography.


Greyledge, Nancy Nauts Dobbs, and Red Mountain Preserves

Cornwall Conservation Trust | 375 acres in Cornwall, Connecticut

In northwest Connecticut, Cornwall Conservation Trust’s forever-wild preserves abut Mohawk State Forest, altogether totaling a 1,230-acre protected forest block. Headwaters of the Hollenbeck River originate here, and eight rare species have been catalogued on or near these Preserves. About one mile of a spur trail of the Mohawk Trail runs through these lands, offering views across the newly forever-wild land from an overlook on Red Mountain.

Pope, Yoakum, Mitchell Shostak, Belter Lime Rock, Dark Hollow, and Railroad Ramble Preserves

Salisbury Association Land Trust | 682 acres in Salisbury, Connecticut

These lands fall within the “Greens to Hudson Highlands” wildlife linkage, identified by the Staying Connected Initiative. The habitat is mostly core forest in an area of high climate resiliency. The Preserves harbor a rich variety of wildlife and plants, including many rare species, and three of them are adjacent to the Appalachian Trail Corridor.

Pope Preserve in Connecticut. Photo by Harry White.


Grand Lake Reserve

Indian River Lakes Conservancy | 1,072 acres in Theresa, New York

In New York’s northern reaches, in the vicinity of Thousand Islands National Park on the St. Lawrence River, Grand Lake Reserve sports a wealth of biodiversity. The land’s diversity of inhabitants is due to rugged and varied geography and lakeshore frontage on both Butterfield and Grass Lakes. What’s more, eight and a half miles of trails welcome community members to explore these mesmerizing and diverse lands.

Crooked Creek, South Hammond, Payne Lake, and Many Oaks Preserves

Thousand Islands Land Trust | 2,083 acres in Hammond, Alexandria, Rossie, and Antwerp, New York

These four Preserves, owned by Thousand Island Land Trust and further safeguarded with forever-wild easements held by Northeast Wilderness Trust, create a mosaic of wildlands together with Grand Lake Reserve. These forever-wild lands lie within the Algonquin to Adirondacks Corridor, a region important to supporting wildlife responding to climate change. Northeast Wilderness Trust is increasingly focused on this region, as with the recent creation of Grasse River Wilderness Preserve and Bear Pond Forest, and by collaborating with Indian River Lakes Conservancy and Thousand Islands Land Trust.

A nature walk at Grand Lake Reserve in New York. Photo by Jacob Sell-Hicks.