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Northeast Wilderness Trust partners with Indian River Lakes Conservancy to place forever-wild conservation easement on Grand Lake Reserve

For immediate release: February 16, 2023

Theresa, NY – Indian River Lakes Conservancy (IRLC) has enrolled 1,072 acres in the Wildlands Partnership – an initiative of the Northeast Wilderness Trust that engages local land trusts across the Northeast in forever-wild conservation. This land is now permanently protected as a wildland, allowing nature to flourish with minimal human intervention.

IRLC added forever-wild protection through a Northeast Wilderness Trust conservation easement onts Grand Lake Reserve. This high level of permanent protection offers the Grand Lake Reserve the opportunity to evolve through natural processes over time without intensive human management or extraction. Access for the public to enjoy the natural beauty of this land and water, on foot or by boat is allowed. Hunting is also allowed at Grand Lake Reserve per Northeast Wilderness Trust’s standard guidelines, which can be found here.

The Grand Lake Reserve has particularly high conservation value. It is a landscape rich with biological diversity, rugged geography, and beautiful scenery. Located between Grass and Butterfield Lakes, the landscape includes more than five miles of shoreline. Grand Lake Reserve was established in 2003 with a generous land gift and has grown over time. All IRLC’s holdings sit within the heart of a critical regional wildlife connection: the Algonquin to Adirondacks Corridor known as the A2A.

The A2A corridor is considered one of the most important large-scale forest and wetland linkages in eastern North America. It is recognized globally through two designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserves: The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve and the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve.

Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Wildlands Partnership program serves a critical goal set forth by Harvard Forest’s Wildlands & Woodlands initiative to conserve at least 10% of forestland as wilderness by 2060.  The Wildlands Partnership unites accredited land trusts with resources to conserve wild landscapes across the Northeast Wilderness Trust’ region.  At this time just three to four percent of the Northeast is protected as wilderness.

“We are pleased to be part of the Wildlands Partnership at the Northeast Wilderness Trust. Access to this program and the forever-wild easement protection at the Grand Lake Reserve supports our conservation goals and gives us a chance to educate visitors on the importance of wild places and permanency,” James “Wylie” Huffman, Executive Director of the Indian River Lakes Conservancy, said.

Grand Lake Reserve is home to several species which will benefit from forever-wild protection—from nine uncommon dragonfly and damselfly species, to the declining Whip-poor-will. Wilderness protection sets the foundation for old growth characteristics to return to Grand Lake Reserve. When logging is prohibited and management is limited to an absolute minimum, forest complexity returns naturally creating myriad niche habitats. This allows the wildlife that co-evolved with such conditions the space to thrive.

“Being at the center of the A2A, protection of special places like the Grand Lake Reserve is critical to ensuring the potential for wildlife movement across the St. Lawrence.  We’re excited to extend Northeast Wilderness Trust’s forever-wild conservation efforts into this region with committed partners like IRLC,” Caitlin Mather, Land Protection Manager at Northeast Wilderness Trust, said.

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 73,800 acres in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Indian River Lakes ConservancyThe Indian River Lakes Conservancy was formed in 1998 to preserve the natural character of the region, with a focus on protecting clean water, fish and wildlife, and the scenic vistas along the shores of the lakes and the Indian River. The mission of the Indian River Lakes Conservancy is to conserve, protect and encourage the sustainable management of the water, land, and biological resources in the Indian River Watershed for the benefit and enrichment of future generations.

Photography: Grand Lake Reserve signs and view from Baker Island by Mark Scarlett, Group walking through the forest by Jacob Sell-Hicks