Accreditation Promotes Public Trust, Ensures Permanence
The Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust (RGALT), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving working farms, wildlife habitat, open space and scenic vistas for New Mexico’s future, announced it has achieved accreditation – a mark of honor in land conservation. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that RGALT lands will be protected forever.
Accredited land trusts across the country have permanently conserved more than 15 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas that are vital to healthy, vibrant communities.
“The recent RGALT accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance is an enormous step; as a small organization, with relatively few resources, RGALT has made outsized accomplishments on par with those of much larger land trusts,” said John Leeper, RGALT board treasurer. “The accreditation is recognition of this amazing track record of agricultural land preservation,” Leeper added. Board secretary, Bill Hume, stated, “I am elated at our accreditation success. It is my hope and expectation that the accreditation seal will give us the credibility to reach a wider philanthropic circle to assist us in preserving the rich natural and agricultural environment that makes our state such a great place to live.”
The accreditation is on the heels of another RGALT success: five conservation easements that protect a total of 546 acres habitat along the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, benefitting migratory bird and other wildlife corridors and contributing to scenic vistas and open space.
RGALT was among 37 land trusts across the United States to achieve accreditation or to have accreditation renewed in February. RGALT joins the 342 land trusts that demonstrate their commitment to professional excellence through accreditation, helping to maintain the public’s trust in their work.
“It is exciting to recognize RGALT with this distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Together, accredited land trusts stand united behind strong national standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever. In all, over 75 percent of private lands conserved by land trusts are now held by an accredited land trust.” Hume stated, “The Land Trust Alliance’s Accreditation Commission and its influence in establishing standards for trusts nationwide affirms the growing recognition and importance of land conservation. RGALT is committed to advancing that goal in our own diverse landscape.”
Each accredited land trust meets extensive documentation requirements and undergoes a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation application. The process is rigorous and strengthens land trusts with systems that help landowners and communities achieve their goals. RGALT executive director, Cecilia Rosacker said, “Our work uses legally binding conservation easements and is subject to IRS scrutiny—which is not something to be taken lightly. For me, accreditation was great because it allowed my board to gain a better understanding of the depth and detail that goes into our conservation easement projects that protect important conservation lands forever.” Hume added, “The process obliged us to mature our group from a kitchen table operation to a formal, structured organization which improved our policies and procedures, organized records, and the planning structure for future initiatives.” More information about land trust accreditation can be found at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
The Commission is an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. More information about the many benefits of land conservation is available at www.landtrustalliance.org.
The Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust’s (RGALT) primary mission is to promote and assist in the implementation of voluntary conservation easements on farms and ranches in central New Mexico, binding their land and water together and ensuring their continued use as agricultural land and wildlife habitat in perpetuity. Learn more at www.rgalt.org.
About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. 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. For more, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
About the Land Trust Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents more than 1,100 member land trusts supported by more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C. and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at www.landtrustalliance.org.