Frenchman Bay Community Forest

Frenchman Bay
Community Forest

Frenchman Bay Community Forest in Hancock, Maine was the first completed conservation project through the Wildlands Partnership.

The Frenchman Bay Community Forest in Hancock, Maine is a 1,435-acre public forest with extensive wetlands close to the coast. Not far from the downtown of Ellsworth, it was purchased by Frenchman Bay Conservancy in 2021. The Conservancy then granted a forever-wild easement to Northeast Wilderness Trust, ensuring this large forest facing high development pressure will grow old and wild.

The Down East Sunrise Trail runs through the Community Forest, so people of all walks of life can enjoy this beautiful place and directly experience the land rewilding over time. Frenchman Bay Conservancy sees this place as a perfect fit for outdoor education and “living classrooms”, and will be welcoming walking, snowshoeing, birdwatching, and certain types of hunting on the land. The new Community Forest also protects clean water within the Kilkenny and Egypt Streams, which flow into Kilkenny Cove and Egypt Bay.

An adjacent 3,100 acres are protected by New England Forestry Foundation, creating a real, on-the-ground example of how a mosaic of conservation approaches can weave together to create a healthy, sustainable landscape for both human and wild communities. These protected lands are within a 25,000-acre block of undeveloped forest—a rare find within one mile of the coast.

The two land trusts have been working together through the Wildlands Partnership program, an initiative of Northeast Wilderness Trust in collaboration with Sweet Water Trust and Wildlands & Woodlands. The Partnership seeks to engage local land trusts across New England and New York in forever-wild conservation.

Frenchman Bay Conservancy is enrolling the land in the Wilderness Trust’s “Wildlands Carbon” program. Wildlands Carbon credits will be generated on the property and sold on the voluntary carbon market. The credits directly support the permanent protection of the Community Forest, and contribute to Frenchman Bay Conservancy’s future conservation work.

Wild landscapes, especially at low elevations, are missing from our region. Creating the conditions for old-growth forest to return to Downeast Maine, in a place where the community can have a firsthand relationship to the land, has been a special opportunity.

Aaron Dority

Executive Director, Frenchman Bay Conservancy

The forever-wild designation means that the forest will be shaped by natural and ecological processes, rather than management or forestry. The community will be able to visit the land to walk, learn, explore, and witness the process of rewilding—the act of giving land back to nature’s rule. Over time, the young forest on the land will mature, eventually regaining old-growth status. Rewilding landscapes offer many important benefits such as wildlife habitat, carbon storage and sequestration, clean water, resilience to storms and flooding, and places of solace where people can experience the beauty and peace of wild nature.

Photography and video by Jerry Monkman/Ecophotography

McCorrison Addition to Alder Stream

McCorrison Addition to
Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve

McCorrison Addition to
Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve

Will you help add 200 acres to the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve in Central Maine?

The 200-acre McCorrison Addition is the newest opportunity to expand the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve in Atkinson, Maine, and you can be a part of this rewilding legacy.

Currently spanning more than 7,000 acres, Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve in Atkinson, ME is a prime example of landscape-scale conservation. The Preserve protects part of Maine’s largest, most varied and intact freshwater wetland systems. This ecosystem is vital for many reasons. It lies within a “Species-at-risk Focus Area” of Maine’s Comprehensive Wildlife Action Plan, and the “Piscataquis-Penobscot Rivers Focus Area” of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve makes up part of an 88,000-acre forest block identified as high priority for conservation by The Nature Conservancy because of its connected, high-quality forest and wetlands.

The McCorrison Addition to Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve is low in elevation; the high point is just 397’ feet.  There are very few conserved, low-elevation wildlands (or Ecological Reserves, as they are called in Maine). The vast majority of wilderness conservation has protected high-elevation landscapes so far.

View map

Like much of Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve, the McCorrison Addition has been logged in the past. Thanks to generous supporters, and to the current owner’s plan to sell this land to the Wilderness Trust, the property has an exciting opportunity to rewild and grow old. This beautiful landscape includes a four-acre wetland.

Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve was last expanded with the purchase of the Ames Addition in early 2021, adding 267 forever-wild acres to the Preserve system.  Today, the Preserve encompasses 7,092 acres. This large-scale wildland didn’t get protected in one fell swoop; six separate campaigns since 2006 aggregated land to build this impressive Ecological Reserve. Now, you can be a part of the next step to grow this wild landscape and help rewild the Northeast.

Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve is a real-life example of landscape-scale rewilding. But the story doesn’t end there…you can help expand wild safehavens for the entire web of life by supporting the McCorrison Addition.

Redington Wilderness Sanctuary

Wilderness Sanctuary

Wilderness Sanctuary

The Wild Heart of
Maine’s High Peaks

At the heart of the largest, most intact temperate forest in North America lie the Western Maine Mountains. The remote range sits at a crossroads, connecting the forests of northern Vermont and New Hampshire to those of northeastern Maine and New Brunswick. Protecting and rewilding habitat here is imperative for wildlife’s survival, movement, and adaptation as climate change accelerates. Redington Wilderness Sanctuary is 3,415 acres of rewilding forestland on the slopes of Mt. Redington, owned by Northeast Wilderness Trust and further protected with a forever-wild easement held by Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust.

The Western Maine Mountains extend from the Mahoosuc Range at Maine’s western border northeasterly to the Hundred-Mile Wilderness and Mt. Katahdin. While there are many conserved forestlands in Maine’s High Peaks, the vast majority are protected as “working woodlands,” meaning they are managed and logged. Additionally, the State of Maine has protected a number of nearby Ecological Preserves.

The new Redington Wilderness Sanctuary dramatically builds upon the existing values of this network of protected lands, while expanding a wild habitat core that can continue to grow in size.

The Sanctuary sits between Bigelow Preserve and Saddleback Mountain, just west of Rangeley, ME. It is a part of a contiguous 170,000-acre forest block. The 1,155-acre Lone Mountain Wilderness Sanctuary, gifted to Northeast Wilderness Trust in 2018 by George Appell, is just southwest of Redington.

The higher mountain zones and associated ecological communities are indeed regionally rare ecological features of the Study Area and worthy of special and immediate attention and protection.

Water & Wildlife at Redington

The value of this land for clean water and wildlife is impressive. There are 2.7 miles of mapped streams across the property, which are headwaters to critical habitat for Atlantic salmon. Three of the six streams are likely to be habitat for native brook trout at their lower elevations.

Maine is home to more than half of the nation’s brook trout, and is the only place in the United States where natural populations of Atlantic salmon live. It is imperative to protect the resources that make this region a stronghold for these sensitive, indicator species.

All of Redington Wilderness Sanctuary is mapped as critical Canada lynx habitat. With the property’s keystone location between multiple ecological preserves, it is a necessary link for wide-ranging animals like lynx, moose, bobcat, and bear to have ample room to find territories, food, mates, and places to raise their young.

Redington Mountain Wilderness Sanctuary is blanketed with thriving sub-alpine forest starting at 2,600′ elevation and reaching just up to tree line. This ecosystem is home to an abundance bird life, as a diversity of migrating birds depend on the Western Maine Mountains for nesting grounds. In addition to supporting Spruce Grouse, Blackpoll Warbler, Blackbacked Woodpecker, and Bay-Breasted Warbler, the entire property is potential Bicknell’s Thrush nesting habitat. Bicknell’s Thrush is in rapid decline and is a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Maine. This thrush prefers the natural disturbances of subalpine forests for their nesting grounds.

Redington Wilderness Sanctuary hosts a unique ecological phenomenon that only occurs in the Northeast and Japan: fir waves.  A fir wave begins when a balsam fir climax forest experiences tree die-back in an area. Trees upwind of the gap are suddenly vulnerable as they are exposed to the elements, and die more quickly. Meanwhile, new young growth is beginning on the leeward side of the gap. This process creates bands of differently-aged forest with natural gaps, which can progress along a mountainside for hundreds of years. From a distance, they appear as undulating silver snakes across the otherwise green body of a mountain. Since fir waves happen over a long period of time, forever-wild conservation is a perfect fit for this property, so that this natural process can indefinitely unfold across the landscape, benefiting Bicknell’s Thrush and other species that have co-evolved with these conditions.

A rare type of forest, the Heart-Leaved Birch Sub-Alpine Forest, is found on this property. This special ecosystem is home to several rare species of plants and animals, including the northern commandra/false toadflax (Geocaulon lividum).

Climate Change and Redington:
Carbon Storage and Species Resilience

Rewilding the slopes of Mt. Redington offers great potential for sequestering and storing many tons of carbon. The property’s strategic central location in the Western Maine Mountains will also serve flora and fauna when their ranges change and move in response to climate change. Both the carbon storage capacity and the ecological resiliency of this property are important conservation factors, as the effects of climate change become more severe in the coming years and decades.

Portions of the property have been logged in the recent past, so the land harbors young and mid-aged forest that will continue to capture carbon for centuries to come. In addition, there are parts of the property that showed no signs of past logging; upon further inspection, these may be considered old-growth forest. Old forests such as these act as carbon sinks, holding vast amounts of carbon in its soil, trees, plants, and woody debris.

Redington Wilderness Sanctuary is part of Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Wild Carbon project. The Wilderness Trust is aggregating carbon credits on multiple properties it owns across the Northeast. This carbon project–comprised of exclusively forever-wild land across multiple states–will be the first of its kind. The success of this program will encourage and normalize future wilderness protection through the carbon market.

Many thanks to everyone who helped to protect Redington Wilderness Sanctuary! In addition to many generous individual donors and anonymous foundations, support for Redington Wilderness Sanctuary has come from:

Sweet Water Trust, The Trust for Public Land (Maine), and Appalachian Trail Conservancy‘s Wild East Action Fund


 Aerial landscapes by Jonathan Milne/LightHawk | Summit and wetland by Jon Leibowitz | Waterfall by Shelby Perry

Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve

Grafton Forest
Wilderness Preserve

Grafton Forest
Wilderness Preserve

In the heart of the Mahoosucs next to Grafton Notch State Park, the Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve is a forever-wild refuge along Maine’s Appalachian Trail.

In Western Maine along the New Hampshire border, the Mahoosuc Range compares only to Mt. Katahdin in its vast, unbroken high-elevation forest. As northbound travelers on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) cross into The Pine Tree State, the green sea of the Mahoosuc Mountains stretches before them.

The 6,045-acre Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve builds on a legacy of wildness in Western Maine. These mountains, also known as the Mountains of the Dawn in honor of the Wabanaki of Maine, or, the People of the Dawnland are some of the first mountains to greet the rising sun as day breaks over this continent.

The Western Maine Mountains are of high conservation importance, and the Wilderness Trust has turned its attention to protecting more land in this eco-region in recent years. Grafton Forest is a keystone area linking a vast public Ecological Preserve and a 15,000-acre, well-managed woodland conserved by The Forest Society of Maine. From the Preserve, a few days’ hike north on the A.T. brings one to the outskirts of Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Lone Mountain and Redington Wilderness Sanctuaries, which cumulatively protect 4,455 forever-wild acres near Bigelow Preserve.

For Nature and People

People seeking to enjoy the solace of a remote adventure aren’t the only ones benefitting from the vast forestland of the Mahoosucs. The high-elevation forests are home to myriad bird species, including Bicknell’s thrush, spruce grouse, boreal chickadee, white-winged crossbill, black-backed woodpecker, many species of warblers and even nesting peregrine falcons. Mammals like American marten, long- and short-tailed weasels, fox, snowshoe hare, and Canada lynx find refuge here, and the region is home to the largest population of moose in the lower 48 states. The high ridgelines are used as migratory routes by songbirds, raptors, and bats.

Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve also protects different kinds of high-elevation forest: Fir-Heart-leaved Birch Subalpine Forest, a rare forest type, and Spruce-Fir Montane Forest.

Here, people are visitors to this wild place who find solitude, peace, and beauty in its surreal realm of moss and conifers. The southern parcel of the Preserve sits just west of a two-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail that passes through the Grafton State Forest. An official A.T. side trail, the Speck Pond Trail, traverses the Grafton Wilderness Preserve for more than 1.5 miles. What’s more, the viewshed that will be protected by the Wilderness Preserve and the FSM easement is ranked as fifth out of 3,144 viewsheds along Maine’s A.T.[1]

Because of their latitude, mountainous topography, continuous forest and Atlantic influence, Maine’s Western Mountains are unique at a continental scale and are home to a diversity of rare species and ecosystems.

–Janet McMahon, M.S., Ecologist

A Natural Climate Solution

As the planet sits at the precipice of rapid climate change and biodiversity loss, the Northeast is poised to play an important role over the next several years with regards to climate stabilization. A 2020 study published in Science Advances identified the Northeastern United States as part of a ‘Global Safety Net’ where, if sufficient ecosystem protection and restoration occurs—quickly—we may have hope of avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve stores incredible amounts of carbon within its mature, high-elevation forests. In the lower elevations of the property, where more recent logging has occurred, the forest will regenerate, capturing and retaining carbon.

When selecting lands to conserve, Northeast Wilderness Trust places an emphasis on climate resiliency—the capacity of a place to support diverse flora and fauna as they move, migrate, and adapt in the face of a warming climate and more extreme weather events. A landscape evaluation tool developed by The Nature Conservancy ranks the resilience of Grafton Forest as well above average. It also considers the entirety of the Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve a “Climate Flow Zone with Confirmed Diversity.” This means that high levels of plant and animal movement occur here, and there are known locations of rare species and unique natural communities.

The Wild Core to a Critical Corridor

The proposed Preserve lies within a 102,000-acre forest block, which is part of a five million-acre stretch of globally significant forest. This region includes more than half of the United States’ largest globally important bird area—providing habitat and breeding grounds for 34 northern woodland songbirds.

This vast expanse of habitat is an important wildlife corridor. Animals who roam or migrate long distances or have territories that are miles wide rely on large forests in order to forage, hunt, find mates, and raise their young. When wildlife corridors include lands that are left in their natural state, they allow species to adapt in the face of a rapidly changing climate. The Mountains of the Dawn are the critical ecological link between the western portion of the Northern Forest (the Adirondack, Green, and White Mountains) and its eastern stretches, which reach into New Brunswick and the Gaspé peninsula.

Such a forest complex is incredibly rare to find in the Northeastern U.S. Northeast Wilderness Trust is proud to partner with Forest Society of Maine (FSM) to protect the forested landscape of the Mahoosucs. Together, the Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve and the Forest Society of Maine conservation easement cumulatively protect 21,000 acres from development. This collaboration represents an on-the-ground realization of the goals laid out in Wildlands & Woodlands, an initiative of Harvard Forest and Highstead Foundation. Wildlands & Woodlands calls for 70% of New England’s forests to be legally protected by 2060, and for at least 10% of those forests to be protected as wilderness. Currently, less than 3% of all conserved lands across the Northeast are protected as wilderness. Forever-wild conservation of the Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve is another step in the right direction on a path towards creating a healthier, more resilient landscapes and communities across all of New England.

FSM is a nationally accredited land trust that has helped conserve approximately 1 million acres of Maine woodlands for their many ecological, recreational, cultural, and economic values. The organization has been at the forefront of developing and implementing effective means of overseeing compliance with harvesting best practices and ecological standards, along with other terms of large forestry easements. FSM is a longtime partner of the Wilderness Trust’s work in Maine and holds forever-wild easements on our Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve in Atkinson, Maine.

To complete this conservation project FSM and NEWT jointly raised $10.7 million in private funds. The conservation project was supported by the Bailey Wildlife Foundation, The Betterment FundThe EJK FoundationMaine Community Foundation Funds, Sweet Water Trust, and The Nature Conservancy.  Additional funding came from the Wild East Action Fund, which seeks to accelerate the pace of conservation within the Appalachian Trail landscape, and the Open Space Institute’s Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund, which supports the protection of climate resilient lands for wildlife and communities. The Fund is made possible thanks to major support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. FSM and NEWT also thank more than a dozen other foundations and organizations and 100 individuals for generously supporting this project.

Photography: Jerry Monkman/Ecophotography

Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve

Alder Stream
Wilderness Preserve

Northeast Wilderness Trust protects more than 13,000 acres of remote wetlands and forest surrounding the Piscataquis River in central Maine. More than half of those lands are the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve–a forever-wild place where nature thrives and people may experience the land on its own terms.

In remote central Maine, Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve covers 7,092 acres bordering Alder Stream, West Branch Dead Stream, and the Piscataquis River in the unincorporated township of Atkinson. These wildlands contain mature American chestnut trees, expansive wetlands, and Atlantic salmon habitat. The Trust is working actively with local partners to expand and connect this network of protected lands, including for sustainable forestry and organic farming. Today, roughly 20,000 acres have been protected in this complex.

In addition to the Preserve, the Wilderness Trust holds an easement on another 6,500 acres between and surrounding Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve. These lands are privately owned and were originally protected by the Sweet Water Trust in 2007. When the Sweet Water Trust transitioned to become the Sweet Water Fund in 2021, this forever-wild easement was transferred to Northeast Wilderness Trust.”

You can help expand Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve by 200 acres with a gift to the McCorrison Addition campaign!

Make a gift

The Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve protects part of Maine’s largest, and most varied and intact freshwater wetland systems. This ecosystem is vital for many reasons. It lies within:

  1. A Species-at-risk Focus Area of Maine’s Comprehensive Wildlife Action Plan
  2. 88,000 acres identified by The Nature Conservancy as a forest block of high priority for conservation due to its unfragmented, high-quality forest and wetlands
  3. The Piscataquis-Penobscot Rivers Focus Area of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan

Threats of fragmentation and loss of public access are high, and the wilderness recovery potential of the region is extraordinary. This landscape is fertile ground for creative conservation action by the Northeast Wilderness Trust and our partners.

Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve is open to quiet, on-foot recreation like hiking, birdwatching, paddling, nature study, and hunting and fishing by permission. If you are interested in hunting or fishing permission for Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve, please visit our Hunting Program page. Contact hannah [at] with any additional questions.

Piscataquis River Part I

The Alder Stream watershed is a focus of the Northeast Wilderness Trust’s conservation efforts because of its biological richness, recreational opportunities and wilderness character. The Trust acquired the 1,500-acre Piscataquis River I property—located in the heart of the watershed in Milo and Atkinson, Maine—in 2006. The Piscataquis River I parcel is characterized by cedar swamps and rich bogs, conifer and northern hardwood forest, and a remote, wild character. The property contains extensive frontage on the Piscataquis River, an important river for Atlantic salmon recovery, and a significant section of the Alder Stream.

These watersheds are home to a great diversity of plants, birds, fish, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. The permanent preservation of the Piscataquis River I property is vital to the ecological health of the watershed and ensures that the watershed’s woods and wetlands stay intact for future generations of wildlife and people. The Trust’s acquisition of the Piscataquis River I property is also an important step in advancing larger conservation efforts within the region.

The Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve project area contains one of the largest, most varied, and intact freshwater wetland systems in Maine.

Piscataquis River Part II

The Piscataquis River II Preserve, a 1,200-acre tract of conifer and deciduous forest, wetlands, and riparian habitat in Atkinson, was acquired by the Northeast Wilderness Trust in December 2010. The Piscataquis River II Preserve provides a critical link in the matrix of already conserved lands in the area and is adjacent to the 1,500-acre Piscataquis River I property that the Trust has protected since 2006.

With three miles of frontage on the Piscataquis River, extensive adjacent and nearby conservation lands, crucial habitat for rare and endangered species, and a one-of-a-kind grove of American chestnuts, the Piscataquis River II Preserve offered a rare opportunity to create a wild legacy for Maine and the nation. Complementing the Wilderness Trust’s other holdings in the area, the Piscataquis River II parcel extends the contiguous riverfront protection to roughly six miles.

Piscataquis River II encompasses 245 acres of “high value habitat” wetlands, which serve as an important stopover for migratory waterfowl. The greater Piscataquis River Preserve area acts as a vital habitat linkage for many species, including wide-ranging mammals such as bear, marten, ermine, fisher, and possibly even the federally endangered Canada lynx. It will be conserved for the benefit of the multitude of creatures that call this landscape “home.”

Home to what is thought to be the largest grove of wild, reproducing American chestnuts in existence, anywhere, the Wilderness Trust’s acquisition of this special property ensures that this stand of trees will remain a seedbed of recovery—and a vital scientific resource for researchers with the American Chestnut Foundation for years to come.

Alder Stream

In remote, central Maine lies 1,760 acres consisting of a patchwork of wetlands and untamed forest.  Moss carpets the ground beneath towering trees and open peat lands offer a veritable buffet for inland wading birds and water fowl.  These parcels, part of a growing network of conserved lands, offer outstanding wilderness recovery potential. Here, nature will direct the ebb and flow of life, and the plants, animals, and natural processes will be sustained in perpetuity.

In 2012 the Wilderness Trust, with the help of our longtime partner Sweet Water Trust, accepted the ownership of these rich and biodiverse acres in Atkinson and Orneville, growing the total acreage owned by Northeast Wilderness Trust at the time to 4,460 acres.

Since that time the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve has grown an additional 2,300 acres with the addition of the West Branch Dead Stream Property, completed in 2014.  All of the Wilderness Trust’s holdings in the area are also protected by a forever-wild easement held by the Forest Society of Maine.

West Branch Dead Stream

Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased approximately 2,300 acres in Atkinson and Charleston to add to the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve in 2014. Protection of this key parcel significantly advances the ecological recovery of the area and brings the total acreage of the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve to just over 6,800 acres.

The West Branch Dead Stream Property contains extensive wetlands that provide exceptional habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, as well as approximately 15 miles of frontage along Levensellor Brook and Dead Stream, critical habitat for imperiled Atlantic salmon. In a bird survey of the property, 41 bird species were recorded; one highlight was a singing clay-colored sparrow—a species that has been confirmed breeding in Maine only once.

According to then Executive Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust, Daryl Burtnett, “The protection of this land as forever wild ensures that the forest that has been cut will recover, and that the woods and wetlands will stay intact for future generations of wildlife and people. We can rest assured that this wild place is protected from the threats of habitat fragmentation and loss of public access.”

On a landscape scale, the Alder Stream addition plays a crucial linkage role and prevents the fragmentation of the surrounding protected landscape. The addition connects the Alder Stream Preserve to the adjacent 6,500 acre Bud Leavitt Wildlife Management Area and fills in the largest unprotected gap in the approximately 22,000-acre Piscataquis River-Alder Stream project area. Additional phases of conservation are envisioned in the future, including protection of key inholdings, adjoining parcels, and various ecological hotspots providing habitat for rare and sensitive species.

Entrance and Parking Area

In 2019, Northeast Wilderness Trust added 12.9 acres to the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve, thanks to the support of Sweet Water Trust. The parcel sits along a well-traveled road and is the new entrance to the Preserve. The land was owned by the Town of Atkinson, which used an acre to store sand and salt for road maintenance. The remaining 12 acres are forest surrounded by the Preserve.

In August, the Wilderness Trust created a small parking lot encircled with boulders on the old sand and salt storage area. As the Wilderness Trust’s Ambassador Landscape for Maine, the Preserve will have a kiosk at its entrance illustrating the re-wilding process.

The property lies just upslope from a large wetland complex in the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve. For years heavy rain would wash salt and sand from this lot into the wetland. Northeast Wilderness Trust added berms of mulch and soil, keeping runoff out of the wetland. The Wilderness Trust planted native wildflowers and shrubs in the remaining open areas in 2020.

The Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve, at nearly 7,000 acres, is open to quiet backcountry exploration. It contains one of the largest and most varied freshwater wetland systems in Maine, and lies within a 20,000-acre complex of conservation land.

This Preserve helped launch the Wilderness Trust’s Wild Carbon program in 2010, generating more than $400,000 for wilderness conservation. The recently launched Wildlands Partnership takes the Wild Carbon program a step further by using the voluntary carbon market to generate long-term revenue for land trusts who add forever-wild restrictions to their land.

Ames Addition

The Ames Addition comprises 267 acres along McCorrison Road and Maple Road in Atkinson. It was purchased by Northeast Wilderness Trust in 2021. The addition abuts Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve on three sides, contains forest and wetlands, and protects frontage of Alder Stream itself.

Photography by Shelby Perry

Howland Research Forest

Research Forest

The site of the nation’s second-longest running collection of atmospheric carbon data, Howland Research Forest in Howland, ME is a site of invaluable scientific study made possible by its wild state.

In November 2007, the Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased and permanently protected the 550-acre Howland Research Forest. Initially established as a research site in 1987 by the University of Maine in cooperation with International Paper, the Howland Forest has hosted scientists from around the world for studies on forest health and climate change. These scientists now have one of the longest records of carbon intake and output (flux) in the world. The Howland Forest is characterized by old-growth spruce and hemlock and provides habitat for species such as moose, black bear, bobcat, and bald eagle.

More than a decade ago, Howland scientists established three meteorological towers on the land to examine how the forest stores carbon and helps stabilize our planet. In 2004, however, Howland Forest was purchased by a timber investor as part of a larger land transaction and was scheduled to be logged. Concerned about the fate of their research, scientists from the University of Maine, Woods Hole Research Center, and the United States Forest Service contacted the Northeast Wilderness Trust to develop a solution. The Northeast Wilderness Trust, with the support of conservation partners, raised the necessary $1 million to purchase and preserve the forest in perpetuity and thereby ensure continuity for the research program there.

The trees should be protected for their own sake.

Shawn Fraver, Howland Forest Researcher

A short distance from Maine’s Penobscot River and the route Thoreau followed north to Mount Katahdin in the summer of 1846 (an adventure chronicled in “The Maine Woods”), is an unassuming wooden shed at the 550-acre Howland Research Forest. Protected as forever wild in 2007 by Northeast Wilderness Trust, the Howland property – unknown to nearly everyone outside a small circle of climate scientists – has led a double life as one of the wildest and, simultaneously, most closely studied patches of ground in the United States.

Hidden under the canopy of a rare old-growth forest of hemlock and white pine, some of which were already middle-aged when Thoreau passed by, University of Maine researcher and Howland site manager John Lee has been quietly churning out groundbreaking data about climate change and carbon sequestration. Lee and partners at the U.S. Forest Service, NASA and other institutions have created one of the world’s best records of atmospheric carbon flux, or “forest breathing,” as he likes to call it.

Flashing across a computer monitor, the Earth’s atmospheric carbon pulses up and down with the daily and yearly rhythms of Howland Forest’s carbon intake and output. “When I started here in 1988, we were at about 360 parts per million on average of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” says Lee. Today, the screen flashes 412 ppm, measured in real time by sensors placed above the treetops. Four hundred ppm had been the clear red line scientists used to symbolize a new danger zone of climate change. It was surpassed in 2016. The numbers on the screen are a sucker punch to the gut. This is the future that our children will inherit.

But the story of Howland is one of hope. Just as carbon measurements at Howland confirm that the Earth’s atmospheric chemistry is in trouble, the research also demonstrates the unparalleled capacity of old, wild forests to reverse that trajectory and help stabilize the climate. In fact, research conducted at Howland shows that there is perhaps no more effective or cost-efficient way to mitigate the effects of human-caused climate change than to allow forests to grow old, wild and remain undisturbed. Setting aside ancient forests naturally stores large amounts of carbon in both the soil and vegetation, and preserves unique biodiversity often found only in untrammeled, unmanaged landscapes.

The latest science from Howland Forest confirms that the “miracles of technology” alone cannot save us from the dual threat of climate chaos and extinction catastrophe. One of the most cost-effective and rapidly scalable solutions to both of these crises is startlingly low-tech: Conserve more wild forests.

Canopy and lichen by Shelby Perry | Mossy forest by Zack Porter

Earthrest Wilderness Sanctuary

Wilderness Sanctuary

Grey and red fox, bobcat, coyote, fisher, bear, weasel, deer, moose, bald and golden eagles, woodcock, flying squirrel, reptiles, amphibians, and all kinds of songbirds have been observed at Earthrest Sanctuary in Hiram, ME.

In November of 2013, Northeast Wilderness Trust was the recipient of a generous gift from Pat Foley of Hiram, Maine. This small town is about an hour’s drive northwest from Portland and less than an hour from the White Mountains. Ms. Foley, a retired retreat center owner who has lived on this land for about 20 years and has come to love its wild character, donated 265 acres to Northeast Wilderness Trust.

Because Pat recognized this land’s importance as wildlife habitat and felt a responsibility to protect it from the threat of development, she sought out the Wilderness Trust to help her protect Earthrest as forever wild.

Earthrest Wilderness Sanctuary is part of a large block of undeveloped forest within the Sebago-Ossipee Hills region and includes a mostly forested rocky hill over 1,000 feet in elevation. Earthrest Preserve has high value for rare plants, including at least one endangered breeding population.

The Earth’s undeveloped wild land is our capital.

Pat Foley

When asked about her reasons for choosing to donate her property, Pat says, “The Earth’s undeveloped wild land is our capital. If we maintain enough of it intact, it will provide us with interest, both now and in future years. The interest includes clean water, fresh air, sequestered carbon, a safe place for forest plants, fish, and wildlife to regenerate, a place where we humans can go to find peace and restoration. I would like to do my part to be sure these things, tangible and intangible, are available to future generations.”

We are delighted to have helped Pat protect this extraordinary place for all to enjoy, and to see that it remains wild and natural in perpetuity.

Earthrest Wilderness Sanctuary landscapes by Shelby Perry | American toad by Zack Porter

Lone Mountain Wilderness Sanctuary

Lone Mountain
Wilderness Sanctuary

Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve in Maine’s Mt. Abram Township is part of a 170,000-acre forest block that contains numerous ongoing conservation projects by partner organizations, most of which protect lands for timber production and recreational uses.

In 2018, Northeast Wilderness Trust accepted a generous gift of land from lifelong wilderness advocate George N. Appell of Phillips, Maine. In honor of his late wife Laura W. R. Appell (née Reynolds), George gave the Wilderness Trust 1,155 acres to create Lone Mountain Wilderness Sanctuary. “Laura loved the wilderness, the rural areas and the forest of Maine’s North Woods,” he reflected when conserving the land. George passed away peacefully in 2020, and the Appell family legacy lives on in Lone Mountain Wilderness Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary’s namesake summit, 3,280’ Lone Mountain, falls just to the south of the property. The preserved land buffers nearly two miles of the Appalachian Trail corridor, managed by the National Park Service. It is also protected by a conservation easement held by the US Navy, as part of an earlier transaction.

The Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve compliments this impressive patchwork of conserved lands and adds another much-needed wilderness core area – safeguarding habitat for sensitive species and views from the Appalachian Trail.

The majority of the Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve is mid-elevation spruce-fir forests and forested wetlands.  Other conservation lands belonging to the state border the property on the north and east sides, making the preserve a critical link in connecting the network of already conserved lands in the area.

Lone Mountain is a keystone for the region. We wanted to turn it into refugia for biodiversity.

George Appell

The Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve lies at the heart of the largest undeveloped ecosystem in the east, known as the Mountains of the Dawn. Spanning more than 5 million acres from the Maine-New Hampshire border to Mt. Katahdin – an area larger than the state of Connecticut – Mountains of the Dawn encompasses an incredible diversity of lowland and upland habitats, from the rocky summits and high elevation bogs of the loftiest peaks in Maine, to floodplain forests nestled in deep river valleys. The Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve protects habitat for moose, black bear, Canada lynx, and Bicknell’s thrush, among other species.

Conservation of the Lone Mountain property, much of which has been logged in the past, promises a wilder future for this special place. In due time, Lone Mountain’s forests will grow older and the scars of past logging and road building will fade away.

The Preserve is open to quiet, muscle-powered exploration and is best approached via the Appalachian Trail.

The long-term stewardship of Lone Mountain is supported in part by the Trust for Public Land (Maine).

Photography by Shelby Perry