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Newly established Moriah Wilderness Preserve adds to wildlife connectivity in Adirondack Park and beyond

For immediate release: August 21, 2023

Moriah, New York… Northeast Wilderness Trust, a non-profit land trust serving New England and New York has conserved 1,775 acres in the West Champlain Hills of New York—a region considered one of the most biologically rich parts of the Adirondack Park. Moriah Wilderness Preserve is adjacent to New York State’s Hammond Pond Wild Forest as well as the Eddy Foundation’s protected Parch Pond. The Preserve establishes expanded and protected corridors for wildlife who move between Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. The Preserve is now protected from development and future logging and is accessible for walking, as well as hunting with a free permit from Northeast Wilderness Trust.

After many years of extensive logging, predominantly in the northern half of the property, Moriah Wilderness Preserve’s forests include young poplar, white pine, sugar maple, beech, and yellow birch. The southern half consists of a somewhat older forest with larger trees, extensive wetlands and streams, and lots of woody debris such as dead standing trees and old trees strewn across the forest floor. This complexity provides exceptional habitat for a variety of wildlife including porcupines, bears, deer, and American marten. As a forever-wild landscape, the Preserve now has the freedom to rewild, adapt, and evolve at Nature’s pace. As the forests mature they will also continue to capture carbon in the trees and soils naturally.

“Forests are a complex ecosystem. They provide a tremendous variety of material goods and at the same time a sanctuary to renew our spirit when we need it,” Chris Gearwear, a forester from Lake George who was the forester for several of the Preserve’s previous owners, said. “Establishing the Moriah Wilderness Preserve will help maintain a balance between forests that produce goods and services and a natural, undisturbed forest environment.”

Small pond and wetland at Moriah Wilderness Preserve

Moriah Wilderness Preserve: connecting lake and mountains for wildlife

Protecting the Moriah Wilderness Preserve as forever-wild allows wildlife passing through, as well as those who make their home within this 1,775-acre ecosystem, the chance to thrive within the larger landscape. The Preserve is located within a transition zone between the Northeastern Highlands and Champlain Lowlands ecoregions of New York. These regions connect to Lake Champlain, which when frozen creates direct passage for local wildlife to move between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondack Park.

Cliffs above Crowfoot Pond at Moriah Wilderness Preserve

“Rewilding is about giving the land back to wildlife and wildlife back to the land, as John Davis of the Rewilding Institute and Adirondack Council, has so eloquently stated.  It’s also about providing the land itself with the autonomy to evolve freely and be self-willed. The Adirondack Park is arguably Earth’s greatest example of modern rewilding, but it remains incomplete,” Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust, said. “In a warming world and a fragmented landscape, it is imperative that we connect the Adirondack Park to surrounding lands with wild and protected areas—the Algonquin to Adirondacks Corridor to the northwest of the park along with the connectivity of the Split Rock Wildway and other similar efforts to the east are essential to biodiversity protection.”

Moriah Wilderness Preserve’s landscape is diverse and ranges from the shoreline of Crowfoot Pond to the summit of Armstrong Mountain. This elevation change of nearly l,000 feet results in increased resilience in the face of climate change because diverse flora, fauna, and fungi can move higher in elevation, or throughout niche habitats created by small hills and valleys. Like many landscapes that Northeast Wilderness Trust protects, Moriah Wilderness Preserve has a long history of intensive extractive use.  Regardless of the current state of the forest, rewilding means the forest will naturally develop into a complex landscape that features old forest, hollow logs and snags, healthy soil with robust fungal networks, and myriad habitats that benefit rich biodiversity.

Downed tree atop lichen-covered ledges at Moriah Wilderness Preserve

Northeast Wilderness Trust is committed to creating and protecting wilderness that establishes the old-growth forests of tomorrow. This conservation strategy addresses the intertwined crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, while also benefitting human health and well-being.

“When we saw the listing for this property, we knew it represented a rare opportunity to rewild lower elevation forestland closer to Lake Champlain,” said Bob Linck, Conservation Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust. “Through the adjacent State-owned Hammond Pond Wild Forest, this new wilderness preserve connects to the High Peaks Wilderness and Giant Mountain Wilderness. Much of the land in those three areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, protected by the Forever Wild clause of the New York State Constitution, have been rewilding for decades – for more than a century in some cases. Northeast Wilderness Trust will hold this new preserve in perpetuity and let nature restore the old-growth forests that existed prior to colonial times.”

About Northeast Wilderness Trust:  Northeast Wilderness Trust’s conserves forever-wild landscapes for Nature and people and it envisions a landscape of connected, resilient wildlands shared by a human culture that recognizes the benefits of wild places.  It accomplishes this work by acquiring land and holding forever-wild conservation easements on properties owned by other organizations or individuals.  Northeast Wilderness Trust also champions wilderness in the public sphere.  Across New England and New York, the Wilderness Trust secures wild places where Nature can thrive, wildlife can wander, and people can find beauty and quiet.  Since its founding in 2002, Northeast Wilderness Trust has protected 79,000 forever-wild acres. Learn more at

Summer photography by Stephen Matter | Winter photography by Jerry Monkman