After an extensive evaluation, the Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) has been awarded accreditation by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
According to NWLT Executive Director Bryan Pierce, the Northwoods Land Trust is one of 230 land trusts from across the country awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008. Just seven of the 50 land trusts in the state of Wisconsin have now achieved accreditation.
Pierce stated that the land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the national Land Trust Alliance, conducts an comprehensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs.
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,” Tammara Van Ryn, Executive Director of the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, said. “Accredited organizations have engaged and trained citizen conservation leaders and improved systems for ensuring that their conservation work is permanent.”
NWLT is now able to display a seal of accreditation indicating to the public that it meets national standards for excellence, upholds the public trust and ensures that conservation efforts are permanent. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation, said Van Ryn.
“Land trusts are gaining higher profiles with their work on behalf of citizens and the seal of accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission is a way to prove to their communities that land trusts are worthy of the significant public and private investment in land conservation,” Land Trust Alliance President Rand Wentworth said.
For more than 10 years, the Northwoods Land Trust has worked with private landowners who want to voluntarily conserve their natural shorelands, woodlands, wetlands and wildlife habitat. NWLT works in areas of Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Florence, Iron, Price and Langlade Counties in northern Wisconsin.
Since it formed in 2001, the land trust has helped landowners protect more than 9,000 acres of land and more than 43 miles of lake and river shorelines, as public benefits for both the present and future generations. Most of these properties have been conserved with land protection agreements, or conservation easements, granted by the landowners.
“Since the inception of the Northwoods Land Trust, we have been working on establishing and maintaining high organizational standards and practices,” NWLT Board President Mary Schwaiger said. “Achieving accreditation validates that hard work and attention to detail. The accreditation seal is an outward symbol that we have achieved our goal of excellence – both for our organization and for current and potential conservation easement donors.”
The Northwoods Land Trust board and staff are committed to excellence. Pierce noted that the application process took almost 400 staff and volunteer hours to prepare and compile the materials to submit to the Commission.
“Going through the land trust accreditation process was a very practical learning experience for me,” Trisha Moore, NWLT’s Conservation Specialist, said. “By thoroughly reading and proofing our accreditation materials, I gained insight into the history, policies, and procedures of our organization. Earning accreditation was certainly worth the effort and I now have a deeper understanding of the work that land trusts do.”
According to Pierce, NWLT’s national land trust accreditation is significant step in an on-going process to ensure the organization is able to meet its perpetual conservation stewardship responsibilities on into the future.
“Accreditation is an indicator of how well the Northwoods Land Trust complies with national quality standards,” he said. “These standards address all aspects of the operation of a land trust as a nonprofit, tax exempt conservation organization.”