Land Conservation Groups Join Growing Number Accredited by Commission
(December 15, 2010 | Saratoga Springs, NY) – The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today the accreditation of seven land trusts, bringing the total number of land conservation groups from across the country that have earned this important distinction to 113.
“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.”
This group of newly accredited land trusts represents the diversity of the land trust community, ranging from a group working to conserve vast working ranchlands in the west, to a land trust that protects the bays, beaches, and barrier islands of the Gulf Coast, to a group preserving unique desert landscapes. 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 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. These land trusts are among the 113 land trusts from across the country that have been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008.
“We are thrilled to have received this national recognition from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission,” said Sonia Perillo, executive director of Desert Foothills Land Trust (DFLT) in Arizona. “Being accredited will enable DFLT to communicate to our supporters, elected officials, landowners and the public that we are operating according to the highest standards of legal and ethical practice, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to this rigorous evaluation.”
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.”
“Accreditation has proven to be an invaluable experience for the Palmer Land Trust,” said Josh Tenneson, programs director at Palmer Land Trust in Colorado. “During the last three years, the organization has analyzed and filled policy and due diligence gaps in preparation for the final accreditation process – strengthening throughout the endeavor. Now that Palmer Land Trust is accredited, it will continue to strive to meet the top industry standards and practices. The accreditation seal provides our partners, landowners, and the general community the utmost confidence in the work that the Palmer Land Trust performs. Use of the accreditation seal is not taken lightly, because all land trusts - across the country - are impacted by the actions and integrity of other land trusts, especially accredited land trusts.”
“The entire accreditation process, from our self-assessment to the last conference call with the Commission, served to validate what we were doing right and identified what we could be doing better,” said Roy Kraynyk, executive director of Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) in Pennsylvania. “The process resulted in new policies and procedures that will substantially reduce the chances of an error or omission that could be a problem for us now or in the future. We now feel empowered to advance ALT’s mission with confidence knowing that we are meeting national standards.”
“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 December 2010
Aquidneck Land Trust (RI)
Athens Land Trust (GA)
Chikaming Open Lands (MI)
Greenbelt Land Trust (OR)
Heritage Conservancy (PA)
Leelanau Conservancy (MI)
McKenzie River Trust (OR)
Mesa Land Trust (CO)
Minnesota Land Trust (MN)
Natural Lands Trust (PA)
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 December 2010