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14 Land Trusts Awarded Accreditation

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Land Trust Accreditation Commission Announces Accreditation of 14 Land Trust

(May 27, 2009 | Saratoga Springs, NY) – The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today the accreditation of 14 land trusts from across the country.

“At a time when the public is demanding increasing accountability from nonprofit organizations and government, including land trusts, the new independent accreditation program provides the assurance of quality and permanence of land protection the public is looking for,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “Today land trusts can join museums, hospitals, universities and other nonprofit institutions that demonstrate that they deserve the public’s trust through rigorous accreditation programs.”

Conserving land helps ensure clean air and drinking water, food security, scenic landscapes, recreational places and wildlife habitat. 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.

 “Anything land trusts or other public charities are able to do directly depends on retaining the public trust, as well as the confidence of Congress and the IRS who have granted land conservation special tax incentives,” commented Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance. “Accreditation is an essential way to demonstrate to the public that land trusts are operating at the highest standards.” 

The diverse group of newly accredited land trusts includes an all-volunteer trust working in a single town in Vermont, a large ranchland protection organization in Colorado with hundreds of easements, and a multicultural land trust that is saving the coastal treasures of Maui. 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 accreditation process has enabled Tall Timbers to look within itself as an organization on how we can improve our operation to meet the goals of our mission and achieve greater public accountability," said Kevin McGorty, director of Tall Timbers Land Conservancy in Florida. “While we recognize that opportunities for improvement abound, we are excited to be on that pathway.”

These land trusts join the inaugural group of 39 land trusts that were awarded accreditation at a special ceremony at Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on September 19, 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. “Through the accreditation process land trusts 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,” remarked Van Ryn.

“Accreditation wasn’t a small or easy undertaking, but I’m thankful that we did it. At a time when financial institutions, businesses and non-profits are failing, it’s critically important that our community knows we’ve taken the steps to assure transparency and stability in our work,” said Brad Chalfant, executive director of the Deschutes Land Trust in Bend, Oregon. “Unlike land-use planning and regulations, we purport to protect land forever. That means we have to take the steps to insure that we’re still here managing these lands for generations to come. In the end, that’s the value of accreditation.”

“Last fall we celebrated the inaugural announcement of accredited lands trusts. We are pleased to expand the list of accredited land trusts with the addition of these 14 land trusts from across the country.” remarked Van Ryn. “The accreditation seal will be 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.

 

 

Accredited Land Trusts

As of February 2009

 

Aspen Valley Land Trust (CO)

Athens Land Trust (GA)

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 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)

Estes Valley Land Trust (CO)

Five Valleys Land Trust (MT)

Freshwater Land Trust (AL)*

Gallatin Valley Land Trust (MT)

Green River Valley Land Trust (WY)

Greenbelt Land Trust (OR)

Greensboro Land Trust (VT)*

Heritage Conservancy (PA)

Hudson Highlands Land Trust (NY)

Lake Champlain Land Trust (VT)

Lake Forest Open Lands Association (IL)*

Lancaster Farmland Trust (PA)*

Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain (MS)*

Land Trust of Virginia (VA)*

Leelanau Conservancy (MI)

Maui Coastal Land Trust (HI)*

Mesa Land Trust (CO)*

Minnesota Land Trust (MN)

Monadnock Conservancy (NH)

Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia (GA)

North Branch Land Trust (PA)

Northern California Regional  Land Trust (CA)*

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (VA)

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

Peninsula Open Space Trust (CA)

Placer Land Trust (CA)

Rensselaer Land Trust (NY)

Scenic Hudson, Inc. (NY)

Scenic Hudson Land Trust (NY)

Sippican Lands Trust (MA)

Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy (FL)*

Upstate Forever (SC)

Washtenaw Land Trust (MI)

Westchester Land Trust (NY)

Wilderness Land Trust (CO)

Willistown Conservation Trust (PA)

 

*Accredited February 2009