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Land Trust Alliance Appoints Commission to Operate Independent Accreditation Program

February 15, 2006 | Washington, D.C

For Immediate Release

Contact: Rand Wentworth
President, Land Trust Alliance

Larry Kueter
Chair, Land Trust Accreditation Commission

Washington, D.C. - The Land Trust Alliance today announced the appointment of a 13-member independent commission to operate a new accreditation program for land trusts. Land trusts are nonprofit organizations that conserve land through private agreements with landowners in their communities. Scheduled to begin operations in early March, the new organization will be called the “Land Trust Accreditation Commission: An Independent Program of the Land Trust Alliance.”

"The accreditation program is a milestone in land conservation history, ensuring the permanent protection of millions of acres of working forests, farms, ranches and natural areas across America,” said Rand Wentworth, president of Land Trust Alliance. “We hope this program will serve as a model of self-regulation and high legal and ethical standards for other nonprofit sectors.”

Land trusts in America have been responsible for conserving 34 million acres, and this new program is seen as a critical tool for ensuring that these lands stay protected. Many of these local, regional and national nonprofit land conservation organizations eagerly await the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments before the commission and receive recognition of their efforts. In an era marked by Congressional scrutiny of the nonprofit sector, this program offers a way to distinguish the excellent work of citizen conservation organizations.

In this first year the commission will develop the policies to provide a fair and transparent review of applications and the procedures for granting a seal of accreditation to successful applicants. Tests of the accreditation system will be underway by 2007 and the program will be fully operational by 2008. More than 1,000 land trusts are eligible for accreditation.

According to Wentworth, one of the keys to successful development of the accreditation program was extensive involvement by the land trust community. The design of the accreditation program was led by a steering committee of conservation leaders and was the result of a year-long process of listening to land trusts and reviewing state-of-the-art conservation practices.

When appointing the new commission, the Land Trust Alliance board of directors also approved the bylaws for the new subsidiary nonprofit corporation and approved the corporation’s officers. Larry Kueter, an attorney in private practice and counsel to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust will serve as the commission’s chair. Kueter commented, “This is a remarkable opportunity to lead a ground-breaking program that will strengthen the land trust community and foster public trust in our work.”

Mr. Kueter volunteered on a 2004 team to revise Land Trust Standards and Practices, the ethical and technical guidelines for land trusts that will serve as the foundation of accreditation. Mr. Kueter also co-chaired the accreditation program design steering committee in 2005 and was recently appointed to Land Trust Alliance’s board of directors. In addition to Mr. Kueter, the independent commission represents a balance of small and large land trusts and land conservation and nonprofit and government expertise from across the country.

"Launching of this accreditation program for land trusts is just what the public needs right now. In recent years, there has been a huge upswing in the number and diversity of landowners who want to protect their property from future development. And now there will also be a system in place to ensure public trust in the organizations responsible for maintaining their protected status,” remarked Wentworth.


The Land Trust Accreditation Commission:
An Independent Program of the Land Trust Alliance  

Commission Members
Member Biographies

Larry Kueter (CO)

Counsel, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust
Attorney, Isaacson Rosenbaum PC
Board Member, Land Trust Alliance
David MacDonald (ME)
Director of Land Protection, Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Jennifer Lorenz (TX)
Executive Director, Legacy Land Trust
Ann Taylor Schwing (CA)
Attorney, McDonough Holland & Allen PC
Board Member, Land Trust of Napa County
Marc Smiley (OR)
Marc Smiley Organizational Development
Board Member, Columbia Land Trust
Katherine Imhoff (VA)
Chairwoman, Virginia Outdoors Foundation
Vice President for Planning and Facilities, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.
Peter Stein (NH)
Partner, Lyme Timber and LTC Conservation Advisory Services

Elizabeth Crane (GA)
Program Manager, Forest Legacy
U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

Henry Tepper (NY)
New York State Director, The Nature Conservancy
David Hartwell (MN)
President, Bellcomb Technologies Inc.
Board Member, Land Trust Alliance
Wesley Ward (MA)
Director of Land Conservation, The Trustees of Reservations
Lucinda Hunt-Stowell (CT)
Board Member, Southbury Land Trust
Chairwoman, Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust
Michael Whitfield (ID)
Executive Director, Teton Regional Land Trust


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