JOHNSON COUNTY– Land trusts are organizations that protect natural areas and preserve land for public use, and Johnson County Heritage Trust has been carrying out that mission in Johnson County since 1978. With the support of generous donors and members, Johnson County Heritage Trust (JCHT) has helped set aside eight local natural areas for the enjoyment and education of the public, and holds conservation easements on eleven properties to help sustain the county’s prairies, woodlands, wetlands and sites of historic or scenic interest.
A big step in a land trust’s engagement with preservation is to become accredited. The accreditation process is a lengthy and rigorous application made to the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission, documenting all of the organization’s policies, inventories and operations. If awarded, an accreditation seal is a mark of excellence in land preservation. It increases public awareness of the trust’s mission and indicates to stakeholders and supporters that the organization is strong, effective, accountable and worthy of their investments in land preservation.
Johnson County Heritage Trust started its accreditation application process in 2009, and recently reached a major milestone with the Accreditation Commission’s acceptance of its pre-application materials. It means the trust is now approved to submit its full accreditation application in September.
The next step in that application requires the trust to notify interested parties of a public comment period. Johnson County Heritage Trust invites members and friend of the trust, key stakeholders and members of the public to submit comments directly to the Accreditation Commission about the organization. Comments must relate to JCHT’s compliance with the national standards against which trusts are judged, and must be attributed (though the identity of a commenter may be withheld from the applicant trust upon request). For example, comments may pertain to JCHT’s practices regarding volunteers, staff and consultants; evaluating and selecting conservation projects; the public benefit of transactions; and monitoring and stewardship of easements and fee lands. All constructive comments will be welcomed and considered by both the Accreditation Commission and JCHT.
The list of practice standards can be found and comments submitted through the Accreditation Commission website at http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/component/content/article/289 .
Comments may also be submitted in writing by mailing comments to:
Land Trust Accreditation Commission
Attn: Public Comments
112 Spring Street, Suite 204
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Comments will be accepted from Aug. 13 through Oct. 26.
Please take advantage of this unique opportunity to support JCHT by submitting your own comments and by asking others to do the same. Your encouragement of public officials, civic leaders and others involved in land conservation activities will be especially helpful and their comments will be very meaningful in helping JCHT to fine tune and improve its conservation and preservation practices.