Bear Pond Forest

Bear Pond Forest

Northeast Wilderness Trust has acquired 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 Forest sits at the center 130,000 acres of protected wilderness. Managed for decades for timber production and hunting, the property was for sale and 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. Thanks to Northeast Wilderness Trust’s partners, funders, and supporters, the community rallied around this special place, allowing the Wilderness Trust to purchase the land in record time.

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. The conservation of Bear Pond Forest is a welcoming act to incrementally support our wolf and cougar relatives reinhabiting their native range.

Big Trees and Wild Waters

Bear Pond Forest, like most of the Adirondacks, has a decades-long history of logging. Protecting the land as forever-wild is a momentous change its trajectory. Now, the forest may grow old, gaining complexity and diversity along the way. This 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, Bear Pond Forest’s protection from further logging will help maintain water quality in the regional watershed.