Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Local land trust recognized nationally

Organization complies with ethical, legal standards


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Wood River Land Trust. The Draper Croy Creek Boardwalk, shown here this fall, was built by the Wood River Land Trust to provide viewing opportunities over 84 acres of wetlands in Hailey. The trust has been recognized by a national conservation organization for its dedication to projects such as this one.

The Hailey-based Wood River Land Trust has gained national recognition for quality from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, the trust announced Monday.

The commission is an independent program associated with the Land Trust Alliance, a conglomerate of land conservation organizations across the country. The Wood River Land Trust is a member of the Washington, D.C.-based alliance.

Accredited organizations must show compliance with 26 standards meant to ensure that a land trust is operating in an ethically and legally sound way. The standards address conflicts of interest, funding methods and financial audits.

Scott Boettger, the trust's executive director, said the application process was "rigorous," but that it strengthened the organization as a whole.

"Having achieved accredited status demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation," Boettger said.

The Wood River Land Trust is one of 113 such organizations recognized nationwide since 2008.

Since it was founded in 1994, the trust has worked to preserve almost 12,000 acres of land and water via conservation easements.

One such project includes the Draper Croy Creek boardwalk in Hailey, a 1,050-foot, compacted-gravel pathway and wooden boardwalk through a wetland area just south of the Lion's Park baseball field.

The trust is also working with landowners and the county to develop applications for the Land, Water and Wildlife Levy funding for conservation and restoration projects. The first round of funding is anticipated to be released in mid-April.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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