Estes Valley Land Trust Earns National Recognition


Accreditation Awarded by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

The Estes Valley Land Trust [EVLT] has been awarded accredited status according to a recent announcement by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the national Land Trust Alliance.

“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.”

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.

The Commission,  established in 2006, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country.  EVLT was one of only 39 in the inaugural group of land trusts to be recognized for meeting national standards of excellence and one of the very few that have accomplished this task without the benefit of full-time staff members.  There are currently more than 1,700 land trusts at work in our nation.

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 examines each application, interviews the land trust and evaluates multiple sources of information, including comments from the public.

A team of board members, volunteers, and part-time staff prepared the monumental Accreditation Application for EVLT.  The team was headed by Bill Lamm and included Mary Banken, Bill Pinkham, Jan Ricker, Rebecca Urquhart, Julie Vida and Lynn Weissenrieder.

The special Awards Ceremony was a part of the opening event at The National Land Conservation Conference held in Pittsburgh, PA last week.  Rebecca Urquhart, EVLT board member and Mary Banken, EVLT Administrative Manager, were present to receive the award.  Rebecca also served as a leader for one of the Conference workshops that was offered to the over 2,000 land conservation professionals in attendance.

The Rally 2008 in Pittsburgh was hosted by The Land Trust Alliance and was the largest gathering of land conservationists in the country. “Bridging Our Past - Connecting Our Future” was the conference theme.

“EVLT’s accredited status demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation," says Wendell Amos, president. “Our land trust is a stronger organization today having gone through the rigorous accreditation program.”

The local land trust was established as a Colorado nonprofit corporation in 1987.  During the first two decades of its preservation activity, EVLT was an all-volunteer enterprise. Today, 8,402 acres are being protected through 139 Conservation Easements held by EVLT; these acres total more than 13 square miles of preserved property.

The award letter to EVLT included a special commendation for their program of volunteer easement monitors.  This commendation lifts up the important contribution Estes residents have made over the past two decades to the open space conservation efforts in the Valley. This year, 85 people are giving their time and energies to this monitoring process.

Land is America’s most important and valuable resource. Conserving our 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. Across the country, local citizens and communities have come together to form land trusts to save the places they love. Community leaders in land trusts have worked with willing landowners to save over 37 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.

“We are proud to display the accreditation seal as a symbol of where we have been and what we have been able to accomplish so far” declared Jim White, EVLT vice president, long-time leading board member.  “We are grateful for all the support given through the years by the Estes Valley community and our conservation partners - especially the Town of Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Larimer County Parks and Open Lands, and Great Outdoor Colorado.”

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