IATA earns national recognition

Accreditation awarded by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

February 26, 2014

Cross Plains, Wis. – The Ice Age Trail Alliance has achieved accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.

“The Ice Age Trail Alliance completed the accreditation program because we recognized it as a key opportunity to strengthen our organization,” said IATA Executive Director Mike Wollmer. “Now, as an accredited organization, the Alliance has earned a new level of credibility with its current and future donors, partners and supporters.”

The Ice Age Trail Alliance has been working for 55 years to create, support and protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail – a thousand-mile footpath that traces Ice Age formations in Wisconsin and provides access to some of the state’s most beautiful natural areas. To achieve the mission of protecting the Trail, the Alliance works with willing landowners to acquire properties.

The Alliance was awarded accreditation this February and is one of 17 land trusts receiving accreditation for the first time. A total of 254 land trusts across the country are currently accredited. Accredited land trusts are authorized to display a seal that serves as a mark of distinction in land conservation. The seal indicates to the public that a land trust meets national standards for excellence, upholds the public trust and ensures that its conservation efforts are permanent.

“This round of accreditation decisions represents another significant milestone for the accreditation program,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “The 254 accredited land trusts account for more than half of the 20,645,165 acres currently owned in fee or protected by a conservation easement held by a land trust.”

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 scenic landscapes and views; recreational places; habitat for the diversity of life on earth; clean air and drinking water; and safe, healthy food. 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. They 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 generations.

“The accreditation process was strenuous,” said IATA Director of Land Conservation Kevin Thusius, who shepherded the IATA through the accreditation process. “It was the kind of workout that leaves your muscles a bit sore, but more prepared for the long run.”

The Ice Age Trail Alliance is a nonprofit volunteer- and member-based organization established in 1958 that works to create, support and protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. One of only 11 National Scenic Trails, the Ice Age Trail is a thousand-mile footpath that highlights Wisconsin’s world-renowned Ice Age heritage and natural resources. Visit www.iceagetrail.org to learn more.

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 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.

The Land Trust Alliance, of which the Ice Age Trail Alliance 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.

CONTACT: Kevin Thusius, IATA Director of Land Conservation, 800-227-0046, kevin@iceagetrail.org