Newtown, CT (March 1, 2017) –Since acquiring its first eight-acre parcel in1924, before there was an Earth Day or widespread public interest in preserving wild lands, the Newtown Forest Association, (NFA) has been preserving the nature of Newtown (both literally and in the sense of the Town’s character). Now the Newtown Forest Association announces that it has achieved national accreditation – joining a network of only 372 accredited land trusts across the nation that have earned this recognition by demonstrating their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work. The Newtown Forest Association now joins 19 other Connecticut land trusts, out of more than 137 throughout the state, who have achieved this milestone.
“Accreditation demonstrates the Newtown Forest Association’s commitment to permanent land conservation, conducted at the highest level of professionalism, by a group of very dedicated volunteer Board members,” said Guy Peterson, NFA Treasurer. “We are a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program. Our strength means special places – such as the Nettleton and Holcombe Hill Preserves – will be protected forever, making Newtown an even greater place for us and our children. We can think of no greater honor then ensuring the permanence of our organizations future by becoming accredited.”
The Newtown Forest Association had to provide extensive documentation and undergo a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation application. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarding accreditation signifies its confidence that the Newtown Forest Association’s lands will be protected forever. Almost 20 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas vital to healthy communities are now permanently conserved by accredited land trusts nation-wide.
Marta Wright, a Newtown Resident since 1965 and NFA Board member since 1988, said, “I feel the Certification Process helped the Newtown Forest Association improve our ability to better care for the open space entrusted to us. The Accreditation label proves to potential donors that the NFA is seriously dedicated to the preservation of open space.”
NFA President Bob Eckenrode said, “We at the Newtown Forest Association feel this is an honor to be recognized nationally for this achievement by the Land Trust Alliance. The accreditation process was so thorough and professional. It gave us a chance to really examine our current procedures and revisit our priorities. Having adopted most of the Land Trust Alliance Standard and Practices informally over the past several years as a guide, we were able to fine tune things to successfully complete the process. We know the examples we set for conservation practices are going to be useful as a benchmark to be shared within our community, as well as with other land trusts and open space organizations in our region.”
“It is exciting to recognize the Newtown Forest Association with this distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Accredited land trusts are united behind strong ethical standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever. Accreditation recognizes the Newtown Forest Association has demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”
The Newtown Forest Association is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the most recent National Land Trust Census, released December 1, 2016 by the Land Trust Alliance. This comprehensive report also shows that accredited land trusts have made significant achievements.
- Accredited land trusts have steadily grown and now steward more than 77% of conservation lands and easements held by all land trusts.
- Accredited land trusts protected five times more land from 2010 to 2015 than land trusts that were not yet accredited.
- Accredited land trusts also have stronger systems and more resources to steward and defend their conservation lands forever.
- As a result, the public’s trust in land conservation has increased, helping to win support for federal, state and local conservation funding measures.
A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits are detailed at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
About the Newtown Forest Association
The Newtown Forest Association is the oldest private land trust in Connecticut and not part of the Town of Newtown. In fact, we are the largest private landowner in Newtown. The non-profit Newtown Forest Association owns more than 1,101 acres, and preserves an additional 225 acres under conservation easements; we care for 1,194 acres in Newtown and 132 acres in Bethel. These include the 190-acre Holcombe Preserves, with breathtaking four-county views from the highest elevation in Newtown and our 0.05 acre Glen Preserve in Sandy Hook Center whose centerpiece is the Christmas Tree. The other 51 preserves include meadows, woodlands and wetlands. They not only help to maintain our local rural character, but also preserve the ecosystem on which our residents and wildlife depend. These are open to the public for passive recreation and include trails, ponds, streams and vistas for all to enjoy. Visit our web site for more information about the properties we preserve as well as about the Newtown Forest Association at www.newtownforestassociation.org
About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. 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. For more, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
About the Land Trust Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. Based in Washington, D.C., and with several regional offices, the Alliance represents about 1,000 member land trusts nationwide.
The Alliance’s leadership serves the entire land trust community—our work in the nation’s capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; our education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and our comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities. Connect with us online at www.landtrustalliance.org.