February 9, 2011. PEC Press Release

 

FOR RELEASE:
February 9, 2011

Accreditation Awarded by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

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(Warrenton, VA) - The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced that the Piedmont Environmental Council has been awarded accredited status. PEC is in the vanguard --one of only 130 land trusts, out of 1,700 nationwide, to have earned accreditation.

"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."

"The Piedmont Environmental Council is delighted to be one of just 130 accredited land trusts in the nation," says Chris Miller, President of PEC. "As one of the oldest conservation organizations in Virginia, we have strived to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards for land conservation, ensuring that the work we do to protect the Piedmont will stand the test of time."

The Piedmont Environmental Council was founded in 1972 and has worked with landowners throughout its nine-county region to help protect more than 336,000 acres of private land.  That rural preservation is the backbone of the culture, history and economy of the region.  In the past, PEC has largely helped landowners donate conservation easements to other organizations, however with its new accredited status, it plans to accept more donations of conservation easements. By agreeing to hold conservation easements, PEC takes on the responsibility to uphold the integrity of these permanent conservation agreements over time.

“Accreditation is a mark of distinction, and with our new status recognized by this national accrediting organization we feel ready and able to take on more responsibility as a holder of conservation easements in our region,” says Heather Richards, Director of Land Conservation.  “We look forward to continuing our work with landowners in the region, and will help to ensure they are able to protect the land they love, whether with us or with our partner organizations.”  

The decision to become a more active easement holder is part of a larger strategic plan, adopted by the PEC Board, which aims to reach an even broader base of residents in the Piedmont region and serve more citizens through all of our programs, from land conservation to land use and policy to the highly-successful Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign.

Conserving 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.  

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, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance established in 2006, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country. The Alliance, of which PEC is a member, is a national conservation group based in Washington, D.C. that works to save the places people love by strengthening conservation throughout America.

“Although we’ve been dedicated to upholding the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices for years, the accreditation process made us a stronger organization,” says Mike Kane, PEC’s accreditation manager.  “The changes we’ve implemented will help us protect more land in a smoother process, ensuring that we’ll be able to protect that land for generations to come.

Online Resources:

Maps of protected lands in PEC’s nine counties
More information on land trust accreditation