(August 5, 2009 | Saratoga Springs, NY) The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today the accreditation of 19 land trusts, bringing the total number of land conservation groups from across the country that have earned this important distinction to 78.
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 small land trusts working in New England, regional land trusts protecting vast open spaces in the west, and land trusts 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.
“As a small land trust, the accreditation process helped us to reconfirm and build on our most important priorities and at the same time reinforce with supporters our strong commitment to the long-term protection of our community,” explains Jim Engel, executive director of the Tinicum Conservancy.
These land trusts join 59 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 forced us to examine every aspect of what we do, and how we do it, and made us fully realize what it takes to make our work effective and enduring,” said Steffney Thompson, executive director of Oconee River Land Trust (ORLT). “The seal will remind ORLT and its partners that we are part of a larger community that is striving to ensure that we all do good work, in every way.”
“We are pleased to expand the list of accredited land trusts with the addition of these 19 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.
Accredited Land Trusts
As of August 2009
*Aquidneck Land Trust (RI)
Deschutes Land Trust (OR)
Estes Valley Land Trust (CO)
Forest Society of Maine (ME)
Mesa Land Trust (CO)
*Natural Lands Trust (PA)
*Nevada County Land Trust (CA)
*Oconee River Land Trust (GA)
*Salem Land Trust (CT)
*Tinicum Conservancy (PA)
*Tri-Valley Conservancy (CA)
*Accredited August 2009