Coastal Mountains Land Trust has achieved renewed land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.

"Accreditation has kept us focused on quality throughout our organization and has set a high standard for accountability to landowners, donors, volunteers, and our greater community," said Doug Sensenig, Land Trust executive director, in a news release. "There is no doubt that the anticipation of re-accreditation kept us on our toes, which is where we want to be."

Since its formation in 1986, Coastal Mountains Land Trust has permanently protected almost 10,000 acres throughout the western Penobscot Bay region, including such community gems as Rockport's Beech Hill, Bald and Ragged Mountains in the Camden Hills, the Ducktrap River, and the Passagassawakeag Greenway in Belfast.

Coastal Mountains Land Trust was awarded renewed accreditation this August and is one of only 280 land trusts from across the country that are now accredited. Accredited land trusts are authorized 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.

“Coastal Mountains Land Trust is one of the first land trusts to achieve renewed accreditation, a significant achievement for the land trust and significant major milestone for the accreditation program. They are an important member of the 280 accredited land trusts that protect more than 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 renewal, which must be completed every five years, provides the public with an assurance that accredited land trusts continue to meet exceedingly high standards for quality.”

Each land trust that achieved renewed accreditation submitted extensive documentation and underwent a rigorous review. “Through accreditation renewal land trusts are part of an important evaluation and improvement process that verifies their operations continue to be effective, strategic and in accordance with strict requirements,” said Van Ryn. “Accredited organizations have engaged 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 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. 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.

"We're proud to display the accreditation seal," affirmed Sensenig. "It represents a sustained commitment to quality, hard work, and attention to detail that we want to communicate to our community. We're in this for the long haul, so it's very important that we do things right — accreditation not only ensures that our conservation work is top-notch, it assures the public that it is too."