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Number of Accredited Groups Reaches 130

Columbia Land Conservancy (NY)
Photo: Columbia Land Conservancy (NY)

Land Conservation Groups Join Growing Number Accredited by Commission

(February 9, 2011 | Saratoga Springs, NY) – The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today the accreditation of 17 land trusts, bringing the total number of land conservation groups from across the country that have earned this important distinction to 130.

“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.

“Congratulations to the 130 land trusts that have been awarded accreditation,” said Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance. “This is a significant milestone and proves that land trusts of every size and from every region have what it takes to earn the public’s trust, as well as the confidence of Congress and the IRS who have granted land conservation special tax incentives.”

The 17 newly accredited land trusts are as follows:

View a full list of the accredited land trusts.

This group of newly accredited land trusts represents the diversity of the land trust community, ranging from three all-volunteer land trusts working in New England to an organization working nationally to protect and restore wetland habitats. Each land trust is filling an important niche in their community, and the accreditation program celebrates their diversity and creativity in protecting the special places people love. 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. These land trusts are among the 130 land trusts from across the country that have been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008. A complete list of accredited land trusts can be found on the Commission’s website, www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

“Since 1937 Ducks Unlimited (DU) has been protecting wetlands across North America,” said Darin Blunck, DU director of conservation programs. “DU is pleased to have earned this recognition from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Whether a large national conservation organization like DU or a small local land trust, accreditation provides assurance that each organization protecting natural habitats for future generations is accountable for the public benefit which they have been entrusted.”

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.”

“Joshua’s Trust (Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust) started to work toward national accreditation as soon as the program was announced,” said Madge Manfred, chair of the organization’s Accreditation Committee. “It took five years of teamwork to transform an energetic, all-volunteer land trust into a professional level organization. Decades of informal operations had to be translated into written policies, internal assumptions about long-term costs had to be confronted, and hard questions had to be asked about our ability to fulfill our promises. We had to stop patting ourselves on the back for being a pretty good outfit and face the scrutiny of an external review. We now have a clearer sense of what we do well and what we need to do to be better. It hasn’t been easy, but the benefits have been significant.”

“The accreditation process provided a valuable learning opportunity for us, allowing us to refine our policies and procedures to conform to best practices in the land trust community nationwide,” says Texas Land Conservancy board member, P. Michael Jung. “Accreditation will reassure landowners and the public that our organization is a responsible and trustworthy permanent steward for Texas' natural treasures. We are proud of the work we have done and are doing, and appreciate this recognition of our efforts by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.”

“We are pleased to expand the list of accredited land trusts with the addition of these 17 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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