Wednesday February 26, 2014
The Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust has achieved national accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.
The Trust is one of only 254 land trusts from across the country to earn the designation. 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.
“Our board decided to pursue accreditation of the Trust because we have made commitments to donors to protect, in perpetuity, certain conservation values they entrusted to us,” said the Trust’s board chair Kurt Mason. “The accreditation process made us step back and evaluate how well we were prepared for that long-term commitment. Forever is a long time; it is humbling to think about the responsibility the Trust is accepting. Accreditation helped us to close some gaps in our processes, fine-tune the way we manage conservation easements and think more strategically about how we make decisions. We are now more confident that we can fulfill our obligation to protect the conservation values assigned to our care - forever.”
The Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust was created by ordinance in 1997 and its nine-member Oversight Board advises Louisville Metro Government on land conservation issues including offers of conservation easements from private land owners. The Trust manages conservation easements for Metro Government on over 1,000 acres of private land in Louisville and Oldham County and works closely with the Louisville Landmarks Commission staff to oversee preservation easements on seven historic properties.
“Our goal of making Louisville a truly sustainable city, is aided greatly by the growing number of landowners who recognize that preserving their land with conservation easements helps protect water quality, wildlife habitat, farmland for local food production and historic sites," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. "The Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust works on behalf of Metro Government as a resource and partner to help landowners conserve these special lands. It's a credit to the strong work of the Trust, and a great sign for our future sustainability, that it has earned this important accreditation.”
“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 Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust
The Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust was created by ordinance in 1997 to help implement Cornerstone 2020’s goals related to parks, natural areas, greenways, historic sites and farmland. The Trust’s nine-member Oversight Board consists of five citizens and four members who represent Metro agencies that are responsible for public land. The Oversight Board reviews offers of conservation easements and makes recommendations to the Mayor and Metro Council. Metro Council makes the final decision about acceptance of the easement. The Trust holds conservation easements on over 1,000 acres. Louisville Metro Parks provides staff support for the Trust. For more information, visit www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/planninganddesign/EnvironmentalTrust.htm.
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 the Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Land Trust 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.