Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification


Montpelier, VT


The mission of the Northeast Wilderness Trust (the Wilderness Trust) is to conserve forever-wild landscapes for nature and people. Our vision is a landscape of linked wildlands in the Northeast and expanded wilderness protection throughout the region. We envision a human culture where wilderness is recognized and valued as a public good worthy of ongoing public and private support.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Jon Leibowitz

Main Address

17 State Street, Suite 302

Montpelier, VT 05602 USA


Northeast, wilderness, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, forever-wild, conservation, easement, land trust





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Forest Conservation (C36)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

Northeast Wilderness Trust was founded by a group of conservationists in order to fill a niche in the regional conservation community—the conservation of forever-wild landscapes in the Northeast. No regional or local land trust focuses exclusively on protecting wilderness areas. While we value the range of compatible conservation strategies, we know that a permanently conserved landscape without resource extraction offers an unparalleled range of benefits to society. Over the past century there has been tremendous conservation progress in the Northeast, primarily oriented toward scenic, recreational, timber, and agricultural purposes. The need to complement these accomplishments with wilderness areas is critical. Conservation science suggests that wilderness areas are the crucial anchors of interconnected systems of conservation lands that can sustain biodiversity, support natural processes, and undergird human economies with a range of ecosystem services that act as climate solutions.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Land Protection and Stewardship

Where we work

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of acres of land protected

Population(s) served


Related program

Land Protection and Stewardship

Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success


Context notes

In total, the Wilderness Trust now protects over 35,000 forever-wild acres across six states. We aim to protect an additional 25,000 acres by 2025 as part of a new 5-year strategic plan.

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

Our primary purpose and the focus of our work is wilderness land conservation—protecting places by owning land and holding forever-wild easements. We prioritize projects that will add resilience to nature in the long run due to their size, character and/or location. We partner with other trusts, nonprofits, municipalities and other public and private landowners to advance such protection. We promote the value of wilderness and lend our voice to efforts that advance policies and practices that support wildland conservation, remove barriers and disincentives to forever-wild protection, and contribute to a wild and healthy future. In 2020, NWT developed a 5-year strategic plan that focuses on the single goal to "accelerate the pace of wilderness conservation" with the aim to conserve 25,000 acres by 2025. In order to accomplish our goal, we developed four main strategies/pillars as outlined below.

Pillar 1: Protect Accelerate and expand wilderness preservation across the Northeast for the benefit of all life. Benchmarks: By 2025, Northeast Wilderness Trust will preserve an additional 25,000 acres of wilderness and steward 60,000 total acres. (25 by ’25!) How We’ll Do It: • Prioritize landscapes that emphasize connectivity • Expand conservation in focal landscapes • Deepen existing partnerships • Engage new partners across the Northeast • Be a resource for other land trusts in exemplary stewardship Pillar 2: Connect Strengthen our region’s collective wilderness ethic by connecting people with meaningful wildlands experiences. Benchmarks: Northeast Wilderness Trust will implement a new online experience and an on-the-ground ambassador land program, connecting people from all walks of life to the Northeast’s extraordinary wildlands. How We’ll Do It: • Offer new ways to experience and love wilderness • Create ambassador landscapes (see opposite) • Monitor rewilding areas • Host events centered on wilderness spirituality and science • Launch “Friends of Northeast Wilderness Trust” groups Pillar 3: Champion Elevate the understanding of and support for wilderness. Wild forests offer solutions to two great global crises: climate change and mass extinction. Rewilding the world’s natural habitats offers a hopeful path toward a brighter future. Benchmarks: Northeast Wilderness Trust will articulate and promote the importance of wilderness across the region by publishing Wild Works and other articles, presenting on wilderness, and hosting gatherings. How We’ll Do It: • Define a wilderness ethic for the 21st century • Increase awareness of wilderness values • Convene “Wilderness Gatherings” • Present regularly across the region • Facilitate conversations about wilderness’ benefits with partners and state and local governments Pillar 4: Sustain Through organizational excellence, build an enduring institution that can deliver on the promise of perpetuity. To advance the strategies of Protect, Connect, and Champion, Northeast Wilderness Trust will employ a variety of strategies to build a deeper and wider base of support. Doing this will allow the Wilderness Trust to increase staff capacity and mission effectiveness. Benchmarks: Northeast Wilderness Trust both operates and is viewed as an efficient, transparent, professional, and resilient organization. How We’ll Do It: • Broaden volunteer opportunities • Deepen relationships with all supporters • Cultivate new funding sources • Ensure financial stability • Continue using best practices

NWT has a small, dedicated staff and board who work collaboratively with other land trusts, landowners and conservation organizations across the region. We respond to opportunities and strategically identify and protect wilderness areas in the northeast. This work will leave a legacy of wild forests for future generations of all species. As a small organization NWT is nimble and lean and is able to respond to emerging opportunities with success. For over 17 years we have adhered to the strictest standards in land conservation. In 2009 we became an accredited member of the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. Land trust accreditation is a mark of distinction, showing that we meet a high standard for land conservation. It demonstrates not only that we are a strong, effective organization but also that we successfully adhere to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission's Land Trust Standards and Practices. Accreditation is a catalyst for improvement, which results in faster, better, stronger conservation. To ensure that all land is protected in perpetuity we have a formal Stewardship Fund. For each easement or property we acquire, a contribution is made to the fund. The Stewardship Fund ensures annual support for a portion of ongoing stewardship costs. In addition, it helps to cover the costs of membership in Terrafirma, a conservation defense insurance program. In the rare instance of legal action needed to defend a wilderness property, Terrafirma insures the costs of upholding conservation easements and fee lands held for conservation purposes.

Progress in our work will leave a legacy of wild forests for future generations of all species. Specifically, we will know that we are making progress if we accomplish the overall goal of our 5-year strategic plan of conserving an additional 25,000 acres by 2025. By monitoring the strategic plan on an annual basis and proactively carrying out the strategies within the plan, we anticipate that over our portfolio of conserved lands will reach 60,000 acres at the end of 2025. A permanently conserved landscape without resource extraction offers an unparalleled range of benefits to society: it provides wildlife habitat, climate regulation, clean air and water, and safe corridors for wildlife migration and rejuvenation. But perhaps most importantly, it safeguards natural processes, indigenous species, and native landscapes. We believe that wilderness areas have intrinsic value and that these sanctuaries of wild nature simply have a right to exist for their own sake. Conserving wild places amid other types of conservation efforts ensures there is less disruption of natural functions. Overtime, wild places recover as roads disappear and habitat regenerates. Wild places suffer less biological impoverishment compared to places that are managed as working landscapes i.e. lands managed for agricultural or forestry purposes. Moreover, unmanaged land retains more carbon than managed lands and therefore has the potential to contribute to a healthier planet. We know that functioning ecosystems ultimately provide the most long-term benefits to human societies as well as to native plant and animal communities. Preserving places where natural forces operate with a minimum of human influence is still the best way to preserve nature and vital evolutionary processes.

During 2019 the Northeast Wilderness Trust: Completed a 5-year strategic plan Hired a new staff person, bringing our staff up to 5 full-time and one part-time Received the transfer of the 5,487-acre Burnt Mountain forever-wild easement for permanent safekeeping, further cementing a close partnership between The Nature Conservancy in Vermont, which now owns the property. Closed on the Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve in Chesterfield, NY, permanently safeguarding 2,445 acres of forest and five pristine ponds. This was the single largest fundraising lift completed by the Wilderness Trust in the shortest period of time. Secured a small but important 13-acre lot in Atkinson, Maine that will be a public access gateway to the thousands of acres we already protect in the area. Hired two new staff positions: 1. Outreach and Communications Coordinator to build the base of support for wilderness preservation throughout the region, and 2. Southern New England Land Steward, that boosts our capacity for monitoring and managing properties and easements in the most populous corner of our mission area Published a 2018 Annual Report detailing our work.

How We Listen

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

Source: Self-reported by organization

the feedback loop
check_box We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
check_box We shared information about our current feedback practices.
How is the organization collecting feedback?
We regularly collect feedback through: electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person).
How is the organization using feedback?
We use feedback to: to inform the development of new programs/projects, to strengthen relationships with the people we serve.
With whom is the organization sharing feedback?
We share feedback with: our staff, our board, our funders, our community partners.
What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?
It is difficult to: staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time.

External Reviews


Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission 2015




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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity