Conservancy Receives National Recognition

We are very pleased and proud to announce that the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy has achieved land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.

“Accreditation involves a very thorough and complex third party evaluation of the business and conservation management and nonprofit governance practices of an organization by a team of professionals experienced in conservation work. Our recognition as an organization that is permitted to display the accreditation seal demonstrates to our members, supporters and landowners that we are fully prepared to meet our promises to protect important natural space now and forever,” says Stan Lilley, Executive Director.

The Chippewa Watershed Conservancy was founded in 1985 and has the mission to preserve open space and wildlife habitat in Isabella, Clare, Gratiot, Montcalm and Mecosta counties through limited land acquisition, conservation easements and education of the public about the need to protect natural space for future generations. The Conservancy has worked with 27 families to preserve nearly 3,200 acres of land through conservation easements while allowing for private ownership of the land. The group also owns 15 preserves protecting an additional 372 acres in the five-county area. An on-going project is an effort to purchase an additional 162 acres of land at Hall’s Lake in western Isabella County, adjacent to 22 acres currently known as the Neely Preserve. All of this land will be called the Hall’s Lake Natural Area and will be open to the public for non-motorized recreation. The 78-acre Sylvan Solace Preserve on Pickard Road, west of Mount Pleasant is also a popular natural area owned by the group and open to the public.

The Chippewa Watershed Conservancy was awarded accreditation this August and is one of only 181 land trusts from across the country that has been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008. Accredited land trusts are able 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.

“Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “The accreditation seal lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land.”

According to the Land Trust Alliance, conserving land helps ensure clean air and drinking water, food security, 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. 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.

Chippewa Watershed Conservancy President John Mitchell said, “Accreditation helps back up our promise to landowners that we will be here to protect their property long after they are gone. It makes it easier to look them in the eye and promise that we will protect their land.”

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. 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 Chippewa Watershed Conservancy 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. 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the Alliance. 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.