The Washtenaw Land Trust has the distinction of being one of the first land conservation organizations in the country to bear the accreditation seal of the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
The Washtenaw Land Trust, an organization that protects natural areas and working farms in Washtenaw and Jackson counties, spent two years working through the accreditation process. After this extensive review, the organization can now display the seal of accreditation. This honor recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust, and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awards the seal to community institutions that demonstrate the ability to protect important natural places and working lands forever. The Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance established in 2006, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country.
Washtenaw Land Trust was one of just three land trusts statewide to receive the award. The other recipients in the state are Chikaming Open Lands and Leelanau Conservancy. Nationwide, Washtenaw Land trust was among 39 land conservation organizations to receive accreditation.
Land Trusts applying for accreditation submit extensive documentation and make a significant commitment of time and money to participate. In a rigorous review process, the Commission reviews each application, including comments from the public.
This process is becoming exceedingly necessary in the nonprofit realm, according to Tammara Van Ryn, the Accreditation Commission’s Executive Director. At a time when the public is demanding increasing accountability from nonprofit organizations and government, including land trusts, the new independent accreditation program provides the assurance of quality and permanence of land protection the public is looking for. Today land trusts can join museums, hospitals, universities, and other nonprofit institutions that demonstrate that they deserve the public’s trust through rigorous accreditation programs.
The process of applying for accreditation helped the Washtenaw Land Trust set a firm foundation as the organization continues to expand, said Susan Lackey, Executive Director for the Land Trust. As we keep growing, it is necessary that we establish standards for our organization to ensure that we are able to permanently protect the lands that are so vital to our community.