“Blue Ridge Conservancy’s accredited status demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation that benefits the entire community,” said Walter Clark, Executive Director. “Our land trust is a stronger organization today having gone through the rigorous accreditation program.”
Blue Ridge Conservancy has protected 17,000 acres in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina. These lands contain important and significant natural, cultural, and recreational resources. The acres protected include privately-owned land conserved through voluntary conservation easements and land that has been purchased and transferred to public ownership because of important water quality, wildlife habitat and viewshed resources. Blue Ridge Conservancy’s territory includes the seven northwest North Carolina counties of Alleghany, Ashe, Wilkes, Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey. In these counties, BRC has 130 properties protected by conservation easements and each is visited annually to ensure that the terms of the easements are being upheld. In 2012, BRC added 400 acres to the 2,000 acre State Game Land preserve on Pond Mountain in Ashe County.
Blue Ridge Conservancy was awarded accreditation this February and is one of only 201 land trusts from across the country that has been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008. Accredited land trusts 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.
“This round of accreditation decisions represents another significant milestone for the accreditation program; the 201 accredited land trusts account for 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 protected areas, 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.
“Blue Ridge Conservancy is proud to display the accreditation seal. It provides assurance to our current and future clients that the conservancy operates under the highest standards,” said Clark.
About Blue Ridge Conservancy
Blue Ridge Conservancy is a private, nonprofit, non-governmental organization incorporated in North Carolina that works with willing landowners and local communities to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational, and scenic value. BRC has protected close to 17,000 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties.
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 21 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 Blue Ridge 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. 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.