QUEENSTOWN – Eastern Shore Land Conservancy this week received land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.
“Since our founding, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy has demanded of itself the highest standards of ethics and accountability,” said ESLC Executive Director Robert J. Etgen. “This is critical for a nonprofit using public donations and for a land trust permanently stewarding family lands. Becoming an Accredited Land Trust makes this long term commitment official – we passed the test that has become the gold standard for ethics and accountability for land trusts. Congratulations to our members for supporting ESLC, and many thanks to the Accreditation Commission for your dedication and thorough review.”
ESLC was founded in 1990 as a result of widespread concern that the Eastern Shore’s important wildlife habitat and prime farmland were being consumed by sprawling development. The decision was made by the founders to preserve land on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to keep prime farmland in agriculture, to protect unique natural areas, and to perpetually monitor preserved lands. ESLC helps private landowners explore and implement various preservation options.
To date, ESLC has helped to protect more than 55,000 acres with easements on 275 properties, the creation of three preserves, and assistance protecting another 16 properties. It is one of the most successful land trusts in the country.
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy was awarded accreditation this February and is one of 254 accredited land trusts from across the country and is among the first accredited Maryland-based trusts. Accredited land trusts are authorized to display a seal indicating to the public that they meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust and ensure land is protected in perpetuity. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation.
“This round of accreditation decisions represents another significant milestone for the accreditation program; the 254 accredited land trusts account for more than half of the 20,645,165 acres currently owned in fee or protected by a conservation easement held by a land trust,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “Accreditation provides the public with an assurance that, at the time of accreditation, land trusts meet high standards for quality and that the results of their conservation work are permanent.”
Each accredited land trust submitted extensive documentation and underwent a rigorous review.
“Through accreditation, land trusts conduct important planning and make their operations more efficient and strategic,” said Van Ryn. “Accredited organizations have engaged and trained citizen conservation leaders and improved systems for ensuring that their conservation work is permanent.”
According to the Land Trust Alliance, conserving land helps ensure clean air and drinking water; safe, healthy food; scenic landscapes and views; recreational places; and habitat for the diversity of life on earth. In addition to health and food benefits, conserving land increases property values near greenbelts, saves tax dollars by encouraging more efficient development, and reduces the need for expensive water filtration facilities. Across the country, local citizens and communities have come together to form more than 1,700 land trusts to save the places they love. Community leaders in land trusts throughout the country have worked with willing landowners to save over 47 million acres of farms, forests, parks and places people care about, including land transferred to public agencies and protected via other means. Strong, well-managed land trusts provide local communities with effective champions and caretakers of their critical land resources, and safeguard the land through the generations.
About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., awards the accreditation seal to community institutions that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country. See a complete list of all six recently accredited land trusts online at http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/newsroom/press-releases. More information on the accreditation program is available on the Commission’s website, www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
About The Land Trust Alliance
The Land Trust Alliance, of which Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is a member, 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. 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.