Land Conservation Groups Join Growing Number Accredited by Commission
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Brady-Connor
Program Manager, Land Trust Accreditation Commission
518-587-3143 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Number of Accredited Groups Reaches 158
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY -- The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today the accreditation of twenty-three land trusts, bringing the total number of land conservation groups from across the country that have earned this important distinction to 158.
“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 47 million acres of land.
“Congratulations to the 158 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 twenty-three newly accredited land trusts are as follows:
- Bayfield Regional Conservancy (WI)
- Caledonia Conservancy (WI)
- ClearWater Conservancy (PA)
- Congaree Land Trust (SC)
- Conservation Trust for Florida, Inc. (FL)
- Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico (PR)
- D&R Greenway Land Trust, Inc. (NJ)
- Great Land Trust (AK)
- Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (IL)
- Mississippi Valley Conservancy (WI)
- North Carolina Coastal Land Trust (NC)
- North Olympic Land Trust (WA)
- Pee Dee Land Trust (SC)
- Prickly Pear Land Trust (MT)
- San Juan Preservation Trust (WA)
- Taos Land Trust (NM)
- The Wetlands Conservancy (OR)
- Three Valley Conservation Trust (OH)
- Upper Valley Land Trust (NH)
- Vinalhaven Land Trust (ME)
- Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (PA)
- Whidbey Camano Land Trust (WA)
- Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust (WY)
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 people 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 158 land trusts from across the country that have been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008. A complete list of accredited land trusts can be found on the Commission’s website, www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
“The process of applying for accreditation made us take the time and effort to spell out how we do things; in other words, we documented our staff’s institutional memory. We are here for the long term and our approach to our work now seems more predictable and transparent to our community. I believe that will be very reassuring to folks. Another benefit of accreditation is that there is more consistency from one land trust to another, and, collectively, we can raise the reputation and effectiveness of the land conservation community”, stated Jennie Pezé, executive director of Pee Dee Land Trust.
Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, executive director of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, said, “The accreditation process motivated the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico (the Trust) to take a ‘deeper look’ at its organizational capacity, infrastructure, and land transaction processes…This accreditation recognizes the Trust’s ability to protect important natural and historical places for perpetuity, providing a significant reference of credibility and respect with our land conservation donors, partners, members, and others. This achievement is an important milestone for the Trust, it means an important mark of distinction in land conservation not only in Puerto Rico, but also in the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America.”
“Being accredited is an exciting affirmation of the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust record of accomplishments—enriching coastal communities through conservation of almost 50,000 acres of open space and natural areas, conservation education, good land stewardship, and operating in a fiscally sound and ethically responsible way”, stated Linda Murchison, president of the land trust’s board of directors.
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 Land Trust knew accreditation was an important mark of distinction that would move it to the next level of professionalism. What we didn’t expect was the innovations that came out of the process and how exciting and rewarding the work was when it finally all came together”, stated Patricia Powell, Whidbey Camano Land Trust Executive Director.
“This has been a goal of mine for several years”, remarked Ernie Atencio, Taos Land Trust executive director. “During my tenure at the land trust we have worked to bring the highest ethical, fiscal and operational practices into our organization. Earning this seal of approval is something we are very proud of. But most importantly, it gives landowners, financial supporters and our community the confidence that Taos Land Trust has the ways and means to carry out our mission of protecting the open, productive and naturals lands in northern New Mexico that we hold dear.”
“We are pleased to expand the list of accredited land trusts with the addition of these 23 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.