(March 17, 2010 | Saratoga Springs, NY) – The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today the accreditation of 11 land trusts, bringing the total number of land conservation groups from across the country that have earned this important distinction to 93.
“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 represents the diversity of the land trust community, ranging from a land trust protecting and restoring natural areas in the Pacific Northwest, to a land trust protecting desert canyons in the west, to a land trust conserving the scenic mountain beauty of the southern Appalachian Mountains. 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.
“Becoming accredited is a crucial step for Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) in order to assure our members, the landowners with whom we work, and the public that we follow rigorous ethical and professional standards,” said SAHC Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “SAHC has always held itself to the highest possible standards, and this is our opportunity to be recognized formally for doing so.”
These 11 land trusts join 82 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.”
David Nichols, executive director of Montezuma Land Conservancy in Colorado adds, “Applying for accreditation, including the self-assessment process and resulting improvements in our policies and procedures, has strengthened our organization, improved the quality of our current conservation work and helped us to ensure to an even greater extent than before, the permanence of all the conservation easements we hold.”
“We are pleased to expand the list of accredited land trusts with the addition of these 11 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.
As of March 2010
Aquidneck Land Trust (RI)
Athens Land Trust (GA)
*Black Canyon Land Trust (CO)
Chikaming Open Lands (MI)
Colorado Open Lands (CO)
Deschutes Land Trust (OR)
Estes Valley Land Trust (CO)
Greenbelt Land Trust (OR)
Heritage Conservancy (PA)
Leelanau Conservancy (MI)
*McKenzie River Trust (OR)
Mesa Land Trust (CO)
Minnesota Land Trust (MN)
*Montana Land Reliance (MT)
Natural Lands Trust (PA)
Placer Land Trust (CA)
Salem Land Trust (CT)
Scenic Hudson, Inc. (NY)
Skagit Land Trust (WA)
Sippican Lands Trust (MA)
*Stowe Land Trust (VT)
Tinicum Conservancy (PA)
Upstate Forever (SC)
Weeks Bay Foundation (AL)
*Accredited March 2010