Aerial view of longleaf pine forest in Wheeler Mountain, Alabama.
© Hunter Nichols / The Nature Conservancy

Land & Water Stories

Big Wins in Land Conservation in 2023

Acre by acre, our supporters help make a difference for nature.

Our supporters have helped build a long-standing legacy of land conservation for more than 70 years. As threats to nature continue to mount, The Nature Conservancy’s on-the-ground work protecting vital lands and waters is even more critical. See below for some of the latest places where members like you are at the heart of our mission.

Places You Helped Protect

Tackling our planet’s immense challenges happens one acre, one policy win, one day at a time. Here are several notable land conservation successes that would not be possible without member support.

Sunrise over the Redington Forest of Crocker and Redington Mountains from Quill Hill in Redington Township, Maine, Appalachian Trail.
Beautiful View Sunrise over the Redington Forest of Crocker and Redington Mountains from Quill Hill in Redington Township, Maine, Appalachian Trail. © Jerry and Marcy Monkman/EcoPhotography

Quill Hill and Perham Stream — Maine

Some of the most breathtaking mountain vistas in Maine — as well as recreational space and critical wildlife habitat — are now protected for future generations. The Nature Conservancy and partners recently conserved two properties nestled in the state’s western mountains, totaling more than 13,000 acres.

Quill Hill is a well-known destination welcoming tens of thousands of visitors each year who are drawn to its 360-degree mountain views. Perham Stream features two headwater streams in the Kennebec River watershed that provide important cold-water habitat. Combined, these properties link more than 100,000 acres of public lands along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. 

Longleaf pink forest in Wheeler Mountain.
Longleaf pink forest in Wheeler Mountain. © Hunter Nichols / The Nature Conservancy
Longleaf pink forest in Wheeler Mountain.
High-priority lands Wheeler Mountain tree canopy © Hunter Nichols

Wheeler Mountain — Alabama

Longleaf pine forests once covered more than 90 million acres across the southeast, dominating the coastal plain from Texas to Virginia. But logging, development and fire suppression destroyed nearly 97 percent of these rich and vital forests. With the dual threats of climate change and biodiversity loss, longleaf pine restoration is crucial in making the landscape more resilient. Longleaf pines thrive in changing climates and provide habitat for many threatened and endangered species.

The Nature Conservancy and partners saved nearly 600 additional acres of longleaf pine forest in Alabama from future development. The Wheeler Mountain property is one of the most biologically diverse natural longleaf pine habitats in the state. The property also includes Gully Creek, one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the south.

Fern Lake view from Cumberland Gap
Fern Lake view from Cumberland Gap © Mike Wilkinson
Aerial image of Fern lake which spans across the Kentucky and Tennessee border.
High-priority lands Aerial image of Fern lake which spans across the Kentucky and Tennessee border. May 2019. The Cumberland Forest Project protects 253,000 acres of Appalachian forest in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia and is one of TNC’s largest-ever conservation efforts in the eastern United States. © Cameron Davidson

Fern Lake — Kentucky and Tennessee

The Appalachian Mountains are home to some of the world’s most intact temperate hardwood forests, as well as the most climate-resilient lands in the United States. They are also one of the most biologically rich areas on Earth, providing habitat for nearly 20,000 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. That’s why The Nature Conservancy has been hard at work stitching the Appalachians back together.

Now another significant piece of the puzzle has been protected with the acquisition of the iconic Fern Lake property — more than 700 acres along the Kentucky and Tennessee border. This property provides an important connection between protected lands within The Nature Conservancy’s 253,000-acre Cumberland Forest Project and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

An Indigo Bunting in the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge.
Patoka An Indigo Bunting in the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge. © Jason Whalen / Fauna Creative

Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge — Indiana

Saving critical habitat for dozens of vulnerable species is always a cause for celebration. In our largest protection project in Indiana in 25 years, The Nature Conservancy purchased a 1,700-acre forested property adjacent to the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge.

More than 80 plant and animal species considered threatened, endangered or of special concern in Indiana live within the river valley — including Indiana bats and nesting bald eagles. This acquisition adds to land already protected by the Refuge, creating more than 20,000 acres of connected wildlife habitat.

Aerial view of a dense green forest with a river cutting through it.
MILES OF MEANDERING RIVER With member support, we were able to safeguard thousands of acres of undeveloped land, providing important habitat for wildlife, along with clean water and recreation spaces for people. © Paul Nurnberg

Grand County — Colorado

Not far from some of Colorado’s most famous mountain towns, numerous notable species including greater sage grouse, elk, moose and mountain lion roam among the grasslands, forests and meadows of Grand County. Above them, bald eagles, hawks and other important birds can be seen soaring against the backdrop of scenic peaks.

The Nature Conservancy is now protecting more than 650 acres in the Upper Colorado River Basin through two new conservation easements. The easements add to the 1,950 acres of the C Lazy U Ranch that have already been protected by The Nature Conservancy. In addition to preserving key wildlife habitat and giving species the room they need to roam, these easements also provide a buffer from nearby development.

Aerial view of a dense green forest with a river cutting through it.
MILES OF MEANDERING RIVER Aerial view of The Nature Conservancy’s Maidstone Bends Preserve, located at the confluence of the Upper Connecticut and Ammonoosuc Rivers in Northumberland and Groveton, New Hampshire © Jeff Lougee/The Nature Conservancy

Aerial view of The Nature Conservancy’s Maidstone Bends Preserve, located at the confluence of the Upper Connecticut and Ammonoosuc Rivers in Northumberland and Groveton, New Hampshire

Maidstone Bends Preserve — New Hampshire

Over the years, the abundance of floodplain forest and wetlands along parts of the Connecticut River has been cut down dramatically by development. But nestled along the northern reaches of the river, The Nature Conservancy’s Maidstone Bends Preserve includes expansive floodplains—areas that flood each spring, filtering water and providing irreplaceable wildlife habitat for countless species including migratory birds, bald eagles, bear and moose. 

We recently expanded the Maidstone Bends Preserve by permanently protecting 870 additional acres of diverse habitat including farmland, woods and wetlands. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of the newly conserved property falls within a drinking water protection area and safeguards an important public drinking water source for local communities.

It’s thanks to our community of supporters who have come together, time and again, to help conserve the land and waters on which all life depends.

With our natural world facing the dual crises of climate change and unprecedented biodiversity loss, your continued support is more urgent than ever. We must work harder and faster than ever before to continue to protect the lands and waters we all rely on. Together, we can find a way forward to create a better path for nature’s future.