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Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust Presented with National Award for Excellence in Land Conservation

For Immediate Release
September 22, 2008

Contacts: George Mason, Chairman
Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust
Phone: (401) 258-3998

Jana Porter
Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust
Phone: (401) 635-4630


Washington, D.C. - The Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust (“LCACT”) was presented with a national conservation award for its success and innovation in preserving active working landscapes that include farmland, historic resources, critical habitats, and scenic vistas.  Trust members accomplished this in Rhode Island, a state where average farmland values are ranked highest in the United States, and in a rural coastal town that has the highest land costs state-wide.

The “LCACT” was selected by The Land Trust Alliance of Washington, DC, from among over 1,700 land trusts across the country, to receive the National Land Trust Excellence Award, which was presented at the National Land Conservation Conference in Pittsburg, Pa. on  September 19th, 2008.
George Mason, the LCACT Chairman, accepting the award for the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust.

“We were extremely flattered and very pleased to have our work honored with this award,” noted Chairman George Mason, “What makes us especially proud is LTA’s national recognition of the hard work and personal commitment not only of our group but of the citizens, land owners and funding partners who make what we do possible.

Protection of farmland is a key component of the LCACT’s mission. To that effect, they craft unique “Ag Specific” easements requiring continued farming on agricultural parcels, thus eliminating the risk that “gentleman’s estates” might supplant working farms. To assist Little Compton farmers and the community’s tenant farmers are required, in lieu of paying large cash rents, to donate fixed dollar amounts of in-season crops to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Additionally, the LCACT hopes to have these donations accepted into the town’s school lunch program.

The Trust has protected to date, either directly or with its partners, a grand total of 1,650.4 acres of land (about 11% of their town). This represents an increase of 25% in Trust holdings in just over a year’s time. Key parcels such as the historic 1680’s Treaty Rock Farm, the Sakonnet Vineyards, and the 1820’s Almy Farm with its ¾ mile historic stonewall were all saved in partnership with both state and federal resources and private donations. These lands represent historic working farms, coastal shrub-lands and forested wetlands. The LCACT has also protected critical buffer land for the Watson Reservoir, which provides drinking water for the city of Newport.
Rand Wentworth, President of the Land Trust Alliance, said in bestowing the award that “The Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust has accomplished so much, so creatively and so collaboratively, that its program serves as a model for other all-volunteer land trusts around the country. Despite the effects on Little Compton of high coastal land costs, suburban sprawl, and being “discovered” by high net-worth vacation home buyers, the LCACT’S efforts have succeeded through creative partnership with governmental and private land preservation organizations as well as private donors in their community.”

 He added, “Together, the members of the LCACT have preserved the quality of life and unique rural character of their community—now and forever."
The Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust was established in 1986 by the town’s citizens. Its purpose is to preserve: agricultural lands; open spaces; fresh and saltwater marshes; estuaries and adjoining uplands; groundwater recharging areas; and to acquire land providing access to: the ocean; bicycle paths and for future public recreational facilities and use.

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.

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