West Bend, WI: The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) was awarded the national distinction of land trust accreditation. The awards were announced July 31, 2013 by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.
“Accredited land trusts account for 52% of the 20,645,165 acres currently owned 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 accredited land trusts meet high standards for quality and that the results of their conservation work are permanent.”
“Land trusts are gaining higher profiles with their work on behalf of citizens, and the seal of accreditation is a way to prove to their communities that land trusts are worthy of the significant public and private investment in land conservation,” noted Land Trust Alliance President Rand Wentworth.
“We are proud of our accomplishments and that we have earned accreditation. It is a testament to the hard work of our volunteers, staff and board of directors,” stated Shawn Graff, OWLT Executive Director. “We have a responsibility to protect our properties and the easements that are entrusted to us in perpetuity. By attaining accreditation, we are demonstrating to our donors, members and the public that we are a professional organization that takes our responsibility seriously.”
OWLT protects over 5,600 acres of land in Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge and Sheboygan Counties.
Each accredited land trust must submit extensive documentation and undergo a rigorous review. “Through accreditation, land trusts conduct important planning and make their operations more efficient and strategic,” said Van Ryn.
Across the country, local citizens and communities have come together to form more than 1,700 land trusts to save the places they love. 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. Conserving land helps ensure clean air and drinking water, safe food, scenic vistas, wildlife habitat and places for people to enjoy nature.
The Commission recently announced the accreditation of 23 land trusts for 2013. This brings the total number of accredited land trusts to 230 (13.5% of land trusts nationwide.) In Wisconsin, OWLT is joined by the Northwoods Land Trust in this year’s class of accredited land trusts, and Bayfield Regional Conservancy, Caledonia Conservancy, Kettle Moraine Land Trust, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust and Mississippi Valley Conservancy received accreditation in the past.
For more information about the Accreditation Commission and the accreditation process visit the Commission’s website, www.landtrustaccreditation.org.