Land trust seeks public input to renew accreditation

The Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust is seeking public opinion on how they do its job of helping landowners conserve and protect their land. Volunteers are shown maintaining the Joseph A. Blake Wildlife Sanctuary in Rutland. Provided photo

LOWVILLE — Among the many land trusts throughout the nation and the north country, only about 25% have achieved accreditation. The Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust is seeking its third renewal of accreditation and needs the public’s help.

Tug Hill Tomorrow initially went through the “extensive review of ... policies and programs” required to be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2011.

At the time of the last census conducted by the Land Trust Alliance in 2016, there were 1,363 land trusts across the country, 370 of which had “demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and lasting stewardship” through the accreditation process, according to information provided on the Alliance website.

That same year, Tug Hill Tomorrow completed its first five-year renewal of accreditation.

In order for the organization to complete the current renewal, the organization is asking for people to send comments to the commission about how it has met the national quality standards expected of an accredited land trust.

“Going through the process the first time really helped us get better organized and strengthen our policies and procedures. It has helped us become more effective and efficient in our work,” said Tug Hill Tomorrow Executive Director Linda Garrett. “I also think it is important for our supporters and partners to know that we are meeting these standards.”

As listed on the Land Trust Alliance website, standards involve responsible and transparent accounting practices; ensuring the conservation value and standards of lands considered for inclusion in the trust and creating easements tailored to each property; following protocols when creating a conservation easement with landowners; maintaining, monitoring and recording information about easements continually; ensuring easement provisions are enforced; and developing and maintaining appropriate policies and procedures while following local, state and federal laws at play with each easement.

The 2021 census of land trusts is now closed, according to the Land Trust Alliance website, and results are anticipated to have a November release.

Tug Hill Tomorrow covers portions of Lewis, Jefferson, Oswego and Oneida counties, working with private landowners and farmers to “protect and foster responsible stewardship practices of working forest, farm, recreation and wild lands in northern New York’s 2,100 square-mile Tug Hill region,” according to the Tug Hill Tomorrow’s news release on the re-accreditation.

According to their website, their work has protected over 20,000 acres.

They also have created a number of programs to give people the opportunity to enjoy engaging with nature and local culture.

People with knowledge of and experience with Tug Hill Tomorrow are encouraged to participate in the public comment period which will remain open all summer.

Comments can be submitted via email at info@landtrustaccreditation.org or by going to the organization’s website at www.landtrustcreditation.org. They may also be faxed to 518-587-3183 or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn. Public Comments, 36 Phila St., Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

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