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You’re Invited: Walk for Wilderness Celebrates 5 Years

In the spring of 2019 I saw Bill McKibben speak about climate change one evening after work.  After his presentation I retired to a bar stool at a nearby watering hole with former NEWT executive director Daryl Burtnett and stewed on what more I could do.  I remember feeling so helpless—I’m not wealthy or influential, I can’t afford to decarbonize my home or drive an electric car. I felt shackled to the momentum of everyday life. How does one person make real, lasting change in the world? How can one person make their moments here matter when it comes to big problems like climate change or biodiversity loss?

Right then and there I realized two things. The first was that for people like me to make a difference, we must act collectively. The second was that collective actions need a rallying force, an exciting idea. If I could be a rallying force, then together, with as many people as I could reach, we could all make a much bigger difference than we could alone. With that, the Walk for Wilderness was born.

Over the course of five years the walk has evolved. In 2019, for my very simple first year, I just Googled walking directions from Montpelier to Bridgewater. Next there was the pandemic-era ‘socially distanced’ walk in 2020, and a sophisticated mapping exercise in 2021 to walk the Worcester-to-Kingdom wildlife movement corridor using as few paved roads as possible. In 2022 I did mini-walks for each donation received.

This year I plan on bringing the event back to its roots and doing another long walk, mostly on trails. My walk will connect the Bear’s Nest Wilderness Preserve Project in Richford and Jay, VT to Woodbury Mountain Wilderness Preserve (protected in 2021), concluding in NEWT’s hometown of Montpelier, Vermont for a reception and celebration. The walk will span 80 miles over 5 days and will be mostly on trails and back roads, including 40 miles of the Long Trail.

As the walk has grown over the years, so has our collective impact, raising over $20,000 in total for wilderness conservation from individual donors just like you. $20,000 is a sum someone like me could never have imagined being able to donate on my own, but together with all of you our impact is multiplied:

  • 2019—Walked 55 miles from Montpelier to Bramhall Wilderness Preserve, raised nearly $7K
  • 2020—Walked 2 miles for every donation received in September for the Bramhall Wilderness Preserve, raising $3K
  • 2021—Walked 81 miles from the Northeast Kingdom through Woodbury Mountain Wilderness Preserve and on to Montpelier, raising over $7k
  • 2022—Walked 2 miles for every donation received in October, totaling over 45 miles and raising over $4k for the Woodbury Mountain Wilderness Preserve
  • This year, let’s make a splash by raising $10,000 for wilderness in Vermont!

I am so humbled and inspired by those of you who have rallied around this event. Together we have contributed to the protection of over 6,000 acres of forever-wild land, safeguarding homes for wildlife while also storing carbon, supporting native biodiversity, and building natural resilience to a changing climate. Wilderness works, and we can work (and walk!) for wilderness too. Thank you for joining me in this journey!

All Walk for Wilderness supporters will receive an invitation to join me in celebration on August 5 at Barr Hill Distillery for the Walk for Wilderness 5th Anniversary Celebration, where I’ll share stories and images from my walk and the NEWT community will mingle over delicious hand-crafted food and beverages. Use the form above to make a gift online, and then click below or check your email to RSVP for the event. I hope you can join me there.

Photography: Walking for Wilderness by Sophi Veltrop, Crossing under roads by Shelby Perry, Bear’s Nest Wilderness Preserve by Jerry Monkman