Champlain Area Trails (CATS) in Westport, NY has achieved land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.
“Accreditation provides greater confidence to landowners who work with us to permanently conserve their land and allow trails on their properties. It also assures the public and our donors that their support is well-placed,” said Katharine Preston, Champlain Area Trails’ board chair. “Our land trust is a stronger organization today having gone through the rigorous accreditation program.”
Champlain Area Trails organized in 2009 with the mission to create hiking/skiing trails in New York’s Champlain Valley that link communities, connect people with nature, and promote economic vitality. As a land trust, CATS also works to protect natural areas, clean water, farmland, and scenic vistas. To date, CATS has developed over 40 miles of trails, protected 495 acres of land, and held numerous outdoor education activities. For more information, visit www.champlainareatrails.com.
CATS was awarded accreditation this August and is one of 317 land trusts from across the country that has been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008. 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 that conservation efforts are permanent. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation.
“This round of accreditation decisions represents another significant milestone for the accreditation program; the 317 accredited land trusts account for more than three quarters 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 protected land, saves tax dollars by encouraging more efficient development, and reduces the need for expensive water filtration facilities. 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.
“We are proud to display the accreditation seal. Being accredited assures our donors their funds are being used wisely and that CATS is following the highest of standards and practices,” said Chris Maron, CATS Executive Director.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, based in Saratoga Springs, NY, 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. See a complete list of all recently accredited land trusts online at http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/land-trust-locator. More information on the accreditation program is available on the Commission’s website, www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the place people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,200 member land trusts supported by more than 5 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates out of several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at www.landtrustalliance.org.