Land Conservation Groups Join Growing Number Accredited by Commission
(August 4, 2010 | Saratoga Springs, NY) – The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today the accreditation of 12 land trusts, bringing the total number of land conservation groups from across the country that have earned this important distinction to 105.“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 more than 100 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 group of newly accredited land trusts represents the diversity of the land trust community, ranging from a group working to combat climate change and protect private forests in the west, to organizations protecting the vitality of the rivers and streams of the southeast, to a land trust engaged in the strategic conservation of the New England shoreline. Each land trust is filling an important niche in its community, and the accreditation program celebrates their diversity and creativity in protecting the special places we 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.
“Becoming accredited was a major goal for Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) this year, and we are very proud of this recognition,” said PFT Chairman Charlie Swindells. “We have always believed in high standards for conservation and stewardship practices for all land trusts and have sought to hold ourselves to what we felt was a very high bar. Until going through the accreditation process, though, we really had no affirmation of where we really stood. The accreditation process enabled us to both assess the robustness of our policies and practices and improve further with feedback from our peers. Accreditation shows we uphold the highest standards throughout our organization.”
These 12 land trusts join 93 other land trusts from across the country that have been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008.
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.”
“I believe that the work our organization did in anticipation of submitting our application for accreditation made us a much stronger organization on all levels,” said Milo Pyne, president of the Eno River Association.
Bill Arnold, president of the Kent Land Trust Board of Directors, added, “Accreditation means we conduct our work in an effective and ethical way, that we have the organizational and financial strength to promise that we can care for our conservation properties forever, and that donors can be certain their contributions will be invested wisely and carefully to protect the natural resources and rural character of Kent.”
“We are pleased to expand the list of accredited land trusts with the addition of these 12 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 August 2010
Aquidneck Land Trust (RI)
Athens Land Trust (GA)
Chikaming Open Lands (MI)
Colorado Open Lands (CO)
Deschutes Land Trust (OR)
*Eno River Association (NC)
Greenbelt Land Trust (OR)
Heritage Conservancy (PA)
Leelanau Conservancy (MI)
*Little Forks Conservancy (MI)
McKenzie River Trust (OR)
Mesa Land Trust (CO)
Minnesota Land Trust (MN)
Natural Lands Trust (PA)
*Pacific Forest Trust (CA)
Placer Land Trust (CA)
*Potomac Conservancy (MD)
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)
Wyoming Land Trust (WY)
*Accredited August 2010