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Land Conservation Groups Join Growing Number Accredited by Commission


(September 30, 2009 | Saratoga Springs, NY) – The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today the accreditation of four land trusts, bringing the total number of land conservation groups from across the country that have earned this important distinction to 82.

“This round of accreditation decisions comes at an important time as land trusts and their supporters work to save land in an uncertain economic environment,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “Accreditation provides the public with an assurance that land trusts meet high standards for quality and that their conservation work is permanent.”

Conserving land helps ensure clean air and drinking water, safe food, scenic vistas, wildlife habitat and places for people to enjoy nature. Across the country, local citizens and communities have come together to form land trusts to save the places they love. These groups have conserved over 37 million acres of land.

“The success of these land trusts directly depends on retaining the public’s trust, as well as the confidence of Congress and the IRS who have granted land conservation special tax incentives,” said Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance. “Accreditation is one way to demonstrate to the public that land trusts are operating at the highest standards.” 

The group of newly accredited land trusts includes a land trust protecting small islands in New York, to land trusts protecting vast open spaces in the west, to a land trust protecting the watersheds of the southeast. What they all have in common is their proven commitment to meeting national standards for excellence, upholding the public trust and ensuring that conservation efforts are permanent.

“The whole accreditation process has been an incredible learning experience for the board and staff,” says Executive Director Andrew Wood. “Our transition happened under such tragic circumstances, but we were able to use our accreditation materials as reference for procedures and institutional memory so we can move forward as an organization.” Aaron Vogel, then executive director of the Thousand Islands Land Trust, died suddenly on November 26, a few days after the land trust submitted its application for accreditation.

Adds Susan Smith, President, “Aaron worked so hard to make the land trust a professional organization. Being accredited is a tribute to his commitment to education, staff development and his love of the land and the organization. We’re all very proud.”

These land trusts join 78 other land trusts from across the country that have been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008.

The Alliance congratulates its members who have been awarded accreditation. “We are thrilled that they are more effective at saving land because they’ve gone through this process for improvement,” said Wentworth.

Land trusts applying for accreditation submit extensive documentation and make a significant commitment of time and money to participate. In a rigorous review process, the Commission examines each application, interviews the land trust and evaluates multiple sources of information, including comments from the public.

All of the accredited land trusts have made significant investments in their organizations, even as they faced tough choices about how to allocate resources. “Through the accreditation process land trusts have taken the time to conduct important planning and to make their operations more efficient and strategic,” said Van Ryn. “Accredited organizations have dramatically increased the funding dedicated to stewarding and defending conservation land in perpetuity, engaged and trained board members and new citizen conservation leaders, and improved systems for managing land and ensuring that the terms of conservation easements are being upheld.”

“The accreditation process allowed the Weeks Bay Foundation (WBF) to complete an internal review of all of our policies and procedures and ensure that the organization would have the capability to perpetually manage our preserves,” said WBF Executive Director Walter Ernest. “It has enabled WBF to become a stronger organization in its mission to support the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and protect coastal Alabama’s ecologically sensitive natural resources.”

“We are pleased to expand the list of accredited land trusts with the addition of these four land trusts from across the country,” said Van Ryn. “The accreditation seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation signifying that the accredited group meets national standards for excellence, upholds the public trust and ensures that conservation efforts are permanent.”

About The Land Trust Accreditation Commission
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, awards the accreditation seal to community institutions that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Commission is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country. More information is available on the Commission’s website, www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About The Land Trust Alliance
The Land Trust Alliance is a national conservation group that works to save the places people love by strengthening conservation throughout America. It works to increase the pace and quality of conservation by advocating favorable tax policies, training land trusts in best practices, and working to ensure the permanence of conservation in the face of continuing threats. 2007 marked the 25th anniversary of the Alliance. The Alliance publishes Land Trust Standards and Practices and provides financial and administrative support to the Commission. It has established an endowment to help ensure the success of the accreditation program and keep it affordable for land trusts of all sizes to participate in accreditation. More information can be found at www.landtrustalliance.org.

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Accredited Land Trusts
As of September 2009


Aquidneck Land Trust (RI)

Aspen Valley Land Trust (CO)

Athens Land Trust (GA)

Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust (NH)

Bedminster Land Conservancy (PA)

Boxford Trails Association/Boxford Open Land Trust (MA)

Brandywine Conservancy (PA)

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (NC)

Cascade Land Conservancy (WA)

Catawba Lands Conservancy (NC)

Central Savannah River Land Trust (GA)

Central Valley Farmland Trust (CA)

Chikaming Open Lands (MI)

Coastal Mountains Land Trust (ME)

Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust (CO)

Colorado Open Lands (CO)

Countryside Conservancy (PA)

Deschutes Land Trust (OR)

Dutchess Land Conservancy (NY)

Eagle Valley Land Trust (CO)

Edisto Island Open Land Trust (SC)

Estes Valley Land Trust (CO)

Five Valleys Land Trust (MT)
Forest Society of Maine (ME)

Freshwater Land Trust (AL)

Gallatin Valley Land Trust (MT)

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (MI)

Green River Valley Land Trust (WY)

Greenbelt Land Trust (OR)

Greensboro Land Trust (VT)

Heritage Conservancy (PA)

Hudson Highlands Land Trust (NY)

*Jackson Hole Land Trust (WY)

Jefferson Land Trust (WA)
Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (WI)

Lake Champlain Land Trust (VT)

Lake Forest Open Lands Association (IL)

Lancaster County Conservancy (PA)

Lancaster Farmland Trust (PA)

Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain (MS)
Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (CA)
Land Trust for Tennessee (TN)

Land Trust of Virginia (VA)

Leelanau Conservancy (MI)

Legacy Land Conservancy (MI)

Maui Coastal Land Trust (HI)

Mesa Land Trust (CO)

Minnesota Land Trust (MN)

Monadnock Conservancy (NH)

Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia (GA)

Natural Lands Trust (PA)

Nevada County Land Trust (CA)

North Branch Land Trust (PA)

*Northeast Wilderness Trust (MA)

Northern California Regional Land Trust (CA)
Northern Prairies Land Trust (SD)
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

Oconee River Land Trust (GA)

Open Space Conservancy (Land Acquisition Affiliate of Open Space Institute) (NY)

Peninsula Open Space Trust (CA)

Placer Land Trust (CA)

Rensselaer Land Trust (NY)

Sacramento Valley Conservancy (CA)

Salem Land Trust (CT)

San Isabel Land Protection Trust (CO)

Scenic Hudson, Inc. (NY)

Scenic Hudson Land Trust (NY)

Skagit Land Trust (WA)

Sippican Lands Trust (MA)

Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy (FL)
Tecumseh Land Trust (OH)
Teton Regional Land Trust (ID)

The Land Conservancy of New Jersey (NJ)

*Thousand Islands Land Trust (NY)

Tinicum Conservancy (PA)

Tri-Valley Conservancy (CA)

Upstate Forever (SC)

*Weeks Bay Foundation (AL)

Westchester Land Trust (NY)

Wilderness Land Trust (CO)

Wildlife Heritage Foundation (CA)

Willistown Conservation Trust (PA)

*Accredited September 2009