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 Wildway is habitat connectivity—making sure wild creatures have room to roam. As of summer 2016, the Northeast Wilderness Trust has protected eight parcels in the Split Rock Wildway, and is actively working with area landowners to conserve additional properties. Within the Wildway project area, roughly 6,000 acres are permanently conserved already; existing conservation lands include areas in public ownership as part 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.
NWT’s Split Rock Wildway Preserve is open to quiet recreation and limited hunting. If you are interested in hunting on NWT’s Split Rock Wildway Preserve, please check out our Hunting Program for rules and permission.
“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!
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.
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.”
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.
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