Snowy Beauty: Winter Conservation Photos Explore Familiar and New Locations

Drone view of the York River and the Smelt Brook Preserve in York, Maine.

We had a unusually mild winter here on the New Hampshire Seacoast, but I still found a few good winter photography projects to shoot in Maine, Vermont, and New York. First, up was a shoot for the York Land Trust at their Highland Farm and Smelt Brook preserves in York, Maine. I first shot these preserves back in the mid-2000’s when the Trust for Public Land was raising money to purchase the properties. Here are a couple of those older shots:

A family explores a woodland trail at Highland Farm and kayaker on the York River in York, Maine.

It has been rewarding to revisit this place during the last few years. I feel lucky to have visited it when it was a hard-to-explore trailless woodland with fields and river frontage, and to see the amazing work the land trust has done to preserve the land while making it accessible to visitors.

A winter exploration of the Highland Farm Preserve in York, Maine.

Both Highland Farm and Smelt Brook are now used as a local hiking destination for families and dog walkers as well as by the land trust and other organizations for organized nature-themed events like bird watching, nature photography, and nature journaling.

Drone view of the York River and the Smelt Brook Preserve in York, Maine.

I also photographed some new conservation land in Vermont near the Canadian border in February for the Northeast Wilderness Trust (NEWT). This photo shoot required a couple of trips as I ran into a stretch of typical winter stubborn Green Mountains cloud cover. NEWT is planning to call this new preserve the Bear’s Nest Wilderness Preserve and it will protect as forever wild 730 acres of critical habitat adjacent to the Jay State Forest. NEWT is currently (Spring 2023) raising the funds necessary to purchase the property.

Drone view of a Vermont hillside in winter in Richford, Vermont. The Adirondacks are in the distance.

This forest was a challenge to explore as there were no trails and about 2 feet of fresh powder. I was fortunate to have my Reel Quest Films partner, Ryan Smith, there to break trail! We traversed a hilly section covered by fallen trees from what must have been a pretty strong wind storm, on our way to finding this beech tree covered in black bear claw marks:

Black bear claw marks on a beech tree in a forest in Richford, Vermont.

It was great to see a mature beech tree being providing habitat and probably sustenance for wildlife. (Beech trees are dying out in the eastern US due to an invasive fungus – we’ll be working on a project this spring exploring the tree species in the Northeast that are at risk of disappearing like the beech tree – stay tuned for that blog post!)

Here are a few more pictures of this beautiful place:

A stream in winter in the forest in Richford, Vermont.
Forest shadows in winter in Richford, Vermont.
Drone view of forest in Richford, Vermont.
A snow-covered spruce tree in the forest in Richford, Vermont and a view of the Adirondacks.

Beat’s Nest is one of several NEWT projects I’ve photographed and filmed during the last three years. You can see a video of their Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve on the Reel Quest YouTube page here:, and a video of their Blue Mountain Wilderness Sanctuary in this prior post.

Let me know if you have any questions about these places or the photos.


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