Grasse River Wilderness Preserve

Grasse River
Wilderness Preserve

Grasse River
Wilderness Preserve

The Grasse River Wilderness Preserve is rewilding former timberlands, giving land back to wildlife at a critical gateway between the Adirondack Park and Canada.


In early 2000 Alice began walking from her home in the Adirondack Park, northwest until she arrived at the Canadian border, where she swam the width of the St. Lawrence River, crossed a four-lane highway, and then continued her trek until she reached the Algonquin Park in Ontario. Her journey took nearly two years and was filled with life-threatening obstacles.





Alice was a Moose. She was tracked by scientists via radio collar between 1998 and 2000. Her 350-mile walk is proof that the small neck of a relatively intact habitat connecting the vast protected forests of New York and Canada is an indispensable lynchpin in a vast corridor for our kin on the move. And while Alice the Moose’s feat may seem remarkable, animals, plants and fungi rely on this connected habitat on an everyday basis. That’s why the Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) Corridor has been formally recognized as a conservation priority, and why Northeast Wilderness Trust is interested in protecting the land in this region.





In 2000 Alice ambled over the ‘Blue Line’ that designates the boundary of the Adirondack Park not far from a 1,407-acre forested property that, at the time, was managed for timber production. Today, Alice’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on can travel through those same lands because they are protected as forever-wild and now known as Grasse River Wilderness Preserve.

Wildlife of Grasse River Wilderness Preserve


This land has incredible value for wildlife thanks in large part to the immense amount of water there. The Preserve protects a mile and a half of Grasse River frontage, more than 250 acres of wetlands, more than 7 miles of streams, and 20 freshwater ponds. Wilderness preservation ensures excellent water quality for this part of the Grasse River, which is home to one of just three known healthy populations of New York’s imperiled eastern pearlshell mussel. (This rare mussel has also been found on Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve in the eastern Adirondacks.)





The water features add diversity to this northern hardwood forest, and many are influenced by beaver activity. During the land’s management, beavers were trapped or controlled as part of the forestry activities. Now, these hardworking ecosystem engineers are free to create even more wetland homes for cattails, minnows, ebony jewelwing damselflies, chestnut-sided warblers, and more as part of the rewilding process.





Grasse River Wilderness Preserve lies at the transition between two distinct eco-regions: the Western Adirondack Foothills, characterized by mid- to low-elevation hills tapering off of the granite massif that forms the Adirondack Mountains, and the low-lying Western Adirondack Transition Zone of gently rolling plains. These transitional areas, or ecotones, are rich in biodiversity and are poised to play an outsized role in speciation and adaptation as human-caused climate change advances.





The Preserve abuts two protected state forests—Downerville State Forest to the north and Degrasse State Forest to the south. It also directly abuts forever-wild land just outside of the Adirondack Park’s boundary line: the 1,300-acre Lampson Falls section of the Grass River Wild Forest, a popular site for camping and walking. The Grasse River Wilderness Preserve secures a wild buffer for the special character of that land, while complementing the more developed recreation area of Lampson Falls with land that is open to the public to on-foot exploration without infrastructure or drastic human-made changes to the land.

Bear Pond Forest

Bear Pond Forest

Bear Pond Forest

Northeast Wilderness Trust is urgently working to purchase and conserve the 1,056-acre Bear Pond Forest—the key remaining privately owned property within the Five Ponds Wilderness Area in New York’s Adirondack Park, the largest protected area in the Lower 48.



Bear Pond faces a critical juncture that will permanently affect the wild character and ecological values of this landscape. Will the land be sold for development, resulting in houses and permanent motorized access penetrating one of the wildest places in the Northeast? Or will it become a quiet haven for wildlife, where nature reigns?

Northeast Wilderness Trust has a very short window to raise the necessary funds to secure a wild future for Bear Pond Forest. Will you help?





Bear Pond Forest sits at the center 130,000 acres of protected wilderness. Managed for decades for timber production and hunting, the property is now for sale and being marketed for high-end residential development. Such construction would lock in private roads and motorized recreation, and would prevent future public access. This place could not be integrated with the surrounding landscape’s wilderness management and character, nor could it rewild from recent logging.




The Bear Pond parcel is one of the most important Wilderness inholdings in the eastern United States, and certainly in the Northeast. Now is the moment where we get to decide: Will permanent nonconforming uses be locked into the heart of the Five Ponds Wilderness or will we seize the opportunity to rewild this precious landscape?


John Davis, author of Big, Wild, and Connected: Scouting an Eastern Wildway from Florida to Quebec

Five Ponds Wilderness



The Five Ponds Wilderness, a vast untrammeled land with towering white pines adorning glacial eskers, expansive wetlands, meandering rivers, and abundant wildlife, is famous among tree lovers as home to the largest tract of old-growth, primary forest in the Northeast.





A Vital Link for Wildlife



The Five Ponds Wilderness Area and surrounding public lands are perched at the southern end of the binational Algonquin-to-Adirondacks wildlife corridor (A2A). The A2A habitat linkage, while not yet formally protected in its entirety, is a focus for conservation because climate resilience requires habitat connectivity for wildlife movement. In 1998, an intrepid, radio-collared moose named Alice confirmed the value of the A2A linkage by wandering from her home in Adirondack Park to Ontario’s Algonquin Park.



Beyond wandering moose, the western Adirondacks would be the likeliest area for missing wolves and cougars to return home via natural dispersal. With some of the lowest human population density in the East, this would be among the most welcoming places for large carnivores to repopulate parts of their former territory. Thus, conserving the Bear Pond Forest as wilderness is a welcoming act to incrementally support our wolf and cougar relatives reinhabiting their native range.



Big Trees and Wild Waters



The Bear Pond property, like most of the Adirondacks, has a decades-long history of logging. Protecting the land as forever-wild will change its trajectory—giving the forest a chance to grow older and gain in complexity and diversity. The parcel ranks highly for climate resilience, habitat connectivity, and overall biodiversity.

The waters that flow through the Bear Pond Forest make their way to the Oswegatchie and Black Rivers, continuing on to join the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. With more than 100 acres of wetlands, two miles of streams, and significant water frontage on three ponds, protecting this forest from further logging will help maintain water quality in the regional watershed.




An Urgent Need



Northeast Wilderness Trust needs to raise $3.2 million by mid-December, 2022, to save the heart of one of America’s wildest places. This sum includes purchasing the land, transaction costs, and a stewardship fund contribution to cover management obligations. Will you help conserve Bear Pond?  




Split Rock Wildway

Split Rock
Wildway

The Split Rock Wildway is an ambitious effort to create a wildlife corridor connecting Lake Champlain the high peaks of New York’s Adirondack Mountains.


The goal of the Split Rock Wildway is habitat connectivity—making sure wild creatures have room to roam. Northeast Wilderness Trust has protected nine parcels in Essex, NY, and continues to focus on this region. Within the Wildway project area, roughly 6,000 acres are permanently conserved already, including public lands of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, and tracts secured by the Northeast Wilderness Trust and other nonprofits. This is a promising start toward restoring and protecting the rich biological diversity and wildlife habitat of this area, while also supporting local communities.

The Trust is currently leading a multi-partner effort to develop and implement a strategic conservation action plan for the Wildway, including an expansion of the Wildway to Vermont. This expanded, transboundary effort aims to conserve a critical landscape linkage in the Northern Appalachian-Acadian ecoregion as a strategy for conserving biodiversity and adapting to climate change.

Our Split Rock Wildway Preserve is open to quiet recreation and limited hunting. If you are interested in hunting permission for Split Rock Wildway, please visit our Hunting Program page.

The goal of the Wildway is habitat connectivity—making sure wild creatures have room to roam.

To date, the Northeast Wilderness Trust has protected nine properties within the Split Rock Wildway focus area. The Wilderness Trust owns six of these properties, and holds forever-wild conservation easements on the other three. Explore each property’s unique history and features below!

Goff Preserve


In May 2016, Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased the Goff Preserve in Essex, NY for permanent protection as a small but key piece in the heart of the Split Rock Wildway. These 27 acres are in the vicinity of other NWT-protected lands and advance the vision of a connected wildway from the High Peaks of the Adirondacks to Lake Champlain.

A place of complex terrain, diverse woodlands, and superb wildlife habitat, the Goff Preserve also protects part of a regionally significant landscape. The preserve is suitable habitat for the sharp-shinned hawk (a species of special concern in New York State), whose long tail and short, rounded wings enable it to dart through woodlands in pursuit of prey. Several large eastern hemlocks on the property are home to porcupine; the hemlock stands are also outstanding winter habitat for white-tailed deer. The Goff Preserve contains a pocket ravine, numerous seeps, and a tributary of the North Branch of the Boquet River.

“My family feels that the transfer to Northeast Wilderness Trust was a positive action, protecting the woodland area for the future, and allowing it to become part of the Split Rock Wildway,” says Norma Goff. “As such, we are hopeful that trails can be developed in the future, providing better public access. Thank you for making this possible.” We thank the Goff family for their vision of a wild future for this land. One more puzzle piece secured!

Thanks to the Sustainable Future Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation and The Eddy Foundation for significant support, as well as to the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, which provided a conservation transaction grant for the Goff Preserve.


Brookfield Headwaters


The Brookfield Headwaters tract is one of dozens of relatively small parcels spread across several towns in the Split Rock Wildway. The property has an ecologically rich, older forest of beautiful hardwoods and pines, and a large interior wetland teeming with birds and wildlife. Acquisition of Brookfield Headwaters enables the Wilderness Trust to stop unauthorized motorized use along an old, abandoned road and to establish a pedestrian trail in its place. The parcel links conserved properties on three sides, including lands owned by the Wilderness Trust on the north (Rowe) and east (Boquet Flats and Northwest Boquet Mountain), and a parcel owned by the Eddy Foundation on the south.

This 81-acre property was purchased in 2010 from Steve Patnode and his brothers. The former landowner was very pleased to learn that a sale to the Trust meant that the land wouldn’t be logged and that he would continue to have access to the property. “Working with the organization was very easy,” said Steve, “and I’m glad I can still walk the land and enjoy it.”

Rowe


The Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased this parcel in March 2008 with the help of local partner The Eddy Foundation. The property is part of the Split Rock Wildway and The Nature Conservancy’s Boquet Mountain Matrix Area, which is a priority conservation target in The Nature Conservancy’s St. Lawrence-Champlain Valley Ecoregional Plan. This 90-acre property is located just west of the Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Boquet Flats and Northwest Boquet Mountain properties. This tract was an important addition to the Split Rock Wildway because of its largely intact northern hardwood forest, strategic proximity to other protected lands, and development threats.


Northwest Boquet Mountain


In January 2007, the Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased Northwest Boquet Mountain property in Essex, New York. The parcel is centrally located in the Split Rock Wildway; its acquisition was a priority because the land was imminently threatened with subdivision and development. Moreover, this 108-acre property is located on the flanks of Boquet Mountain, an area that conservationists proposed for addition to the publicly owned Adirondack Forest Preserve some two decades ago. Significant forest fragmentation and residential development in the area would likely foreclose future options for a substantial addition to the Forest Preserve in the future. Characterized by transitional hardwood forest, the conserved land offers habitat for a variety of species and is adjacent to Boquet Flats, which the Trust purchased in 2006. Its protection marked the Trust’s fifth conservation success in the Wildway.


Boquet Flats


In May 2006, the Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased Boquet Flats, a critical property located in the Split Rock Wildway in Essex, New York. The Boquet Flats property is 95 acres located on the northeast flanks of South Boquet Mountain. The land is primarily northern hardwood forest and provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife typical in the area, including deer, black bear, fisher, and many songbirds.



Photography by Shelby Perry

Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve

Eagle Mountain
Wilderness Preserve

Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve is home to pristine ponds, extensive wetlands, and dramatic cliffs, each offering unique habitat to a wide variety of species in Chesterfield, NY.


Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve, northwest of Essex, New York, encompasses 2,434 acres of glacial-carved topography and unique water features in the foothills of the Northeastern Adirondacks, in a landscape that is underrepresented in protected areas in the Adirondack Park and across the Northeast. This densely forested property consists of northern hardwood and conifer forests, with patches of cliffs and talus, pristine undeveloped ponds, miles of clear running brooks, vernal pools, and wetlands. Peregrine Falcons (a New York State endangered species) have been consistently nesting on the property for at least five years.



Since 2003, the transition lands between Lake Champlain and the Adirondack High Peaks have been a focal area for Northeast Wilderness Trust. In the Split Rock Wildway to the south, the Wilderness Trust has completed nine transactions to protect an important “sea-to-sky” wildlife corridor. Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve protects a critical wildlife corridor to the north.  Surrounding conservation areas include New York State’s Jay Mountain Wilderness and Taylor Pond Wild Forest (home to the local landmark, Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain), as well as privately conserved lands.

This area has seen considerable logging over the decades but its wild character is strong and vital—and in the decades to come, if we can protect it now, it will be a jewel of the eastern Adirondacks, a place of beauty, integrity, and wildness for future generations of people to enjoy.


Tom Butler, Conservationist

This Wilderness Preserve protects just over 1.25 miles of Durgan Brook and its tributary (Trout Pond Brook) and 2.45 miles of Doyle Brook. Both of these brooks are cold, clear, and support native Brook Trout habitat. Miles of smaller brooks and over 155 acres of wetlands provide diverse habitat for a multitude of species. Seepage wetlands thaw first in the spring and provide some of the earliest browse for energy-strapped wildlife (such as bears, moose, and deer—all present on the property) at the end of a long winter.  The exceptional water quality of this stream system is demonstrated by the presence of the Eastern Pearlshell, a rare freshwater mussel found in only a few locations in New York State and at risk throughout its range due to water pollution and dams.


In addition to the fish and wildlife that depend on clean water in the Lake Champlain Basin, approximately 145,000 people rely on the lake for drinking water. With warming temperatures and agricultural runoff threatening the lake’s water quality, protecting headwater streams is an insurance policy for a healthier future.

The Eagle Mountain property ranks as ‘Above Average Resilient’ on The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient and Connected Landscapes dataset. The core area surrounding the ponds and the elevated region surrounding Eagle Mountain itself ranks as ‘Far Above Average.’ Resilient sites like Eagle Mountain are defined as having “sufficient variability and microclimate options to enable species and ecosystems to persist in the face of climate change and which will maintain this ability over time.” Eagle Mountain’s unique, low-elevation habitat will only prove more valuable with the onslaught of climate change, assisting wildlife as they stair-step across this large landscape.





Every Northeast Wilderness Trust Ambassador Preserve has a Rewilding Photo Point. These stations engage passersby with the rewilding process, inviting people to take a photo and contribute to a timelapse that shows ecosystem changes as the land returns to nature’s reign. Learn more and view all our photo points here.



Building on years of partnership in the Split Rock Wildway, Northeast Wilderness Trust worked closely with Champlain Area Trails (CATS) to develop a loop footpath around Clear Pond. The trail was designed to minimize impacts to plants and wildlife while connecting people to the peace and beauty of the land. Seasonal closures, monitored by the Wilderness Trust, will protect nesting peregrine falcons.

If you are interested in hunting permission for Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve, please visit our Hunting Program page.


Many thanks to Sweet Water Trust for essential support of Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve.



Photography by Brendan Wiltse