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Putting the Forever in Forever-Wild

Do you ever wonder what happens to a property after Northeast Wilderness Trust protects it? We spend a great deal of time talking about why a property deserves to be wilderness when we are fundraising to protect land—but when the deal is done, what happens next? Can we sit back and relax, knowing that another slice of the wild has been protected?

Not a chance. The bulk of our work protecting land as wilderness happens once a property has been conserved. We cannot keep a property safe and wild merely by holding its deed; we must actively protect it from all that would restrict its freedom. The most important way we do this is with boots on the ground. With the help of an incredible team of volunteers and stewardship staff, we visit every single property at least once a year, and usually much more. Below, Jon and Shelby navigate a property in New Hampshire. We’re pleased to welcome Hannah Epstein this year as our new Stewardship Coordinator to lead the Wilderness Trust’s stewardship activities!

Northeast Wilderness Trust marks and maintains property boundaries on all of the lands we own to prevent neighbors who are clearing their views from straying over the line with their chainsaws or loppers. In the photo below Susie O’Keeffe (Vice President of NEWT’s Board), marks a boundary at Lone Mountain Wilderness Sanctuary in Maine. Well-marked boundaries also help keep people from building trails into the property, but even with clear signage, this occasionally still happens. In these cases, we act to block the trespass, especially if the trails are for motorized use (such as ATVs or dirt bikes).

Stewardship staff and volunteers remove, and properly dispose of, quite a lot of trash every year. From litter dropped on roadsides to intentional dumping, we have removed and disposed of everything from household appliances to moldy furniture to vehicle parts. Pictured below, a volunteer at Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve dismantles an old privy that had been left on the property.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but it takes a great deal of effort to let wild places simply be wild. And thanks to Northeast Wilderness Trust’s community of supporters and volunteers, we are up to the challenge of “forever.”

Would you like to volunteer to protect wildlife and the places they rely on? Send us an email to get involved at:

Can you make a contribution to support this critical stewardship work? Click here to make a gift, and to learn more about other ways to support the Wilderness Trust’s work to conserve forever-wild landscapes for nature and people across the Northeast

This article was first published in Northeast Wilderness Trust’s 2020 Annual Report. Click to read the full report.

Photography: Jon and Shelby on iPad by Paul Willis | Litter clean-up by Joe Falconeiri | Susie O’Keeffe marking boundaries by Shelby Perry | Volunteer at Eagle Mountain by Emily Segada