Becomes the 8th Organization in New Jersey to Receive the Prestigious Accreditation Seal
Morristown, NJ – The National Land Trust Accreditation Commission announced this month that New Jersey’s Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) has been formally designated as an accredited land trust, joining an elite group of only eight land trusts in New Jersey, and part of a network of 389 nationally recognized organizations. This announcement is the culmination of years of work and leadership by the GSWA to protect, preserve and promote New Jersey’s open spaces, and this prestigious accreditation will serve as a key anchor to the organization as it looks to provide stronger and broader involvement in land conservation.
Over recent years GSWA has developed and implemented a series of initiatives to serve New Jersey as the premiere land conservation and advocate in the Passaic River region, providing environmental education to community groups, teachers, and students, serving as a needed advocate and defender of New Jersey’s precious natural resources, and promoting an understanding of the importance of protecting our drinking water and preserving the natural beauty of our environment. In addition to the National Land Trust accreditation, last year the organization expanded its mission to advocate on behalf of the entire Passaic River and became the formal river affiliate to the nationally based Waterkeeper Alliance. The efforts to receive the National Land Trust Accreditation coincides with the organization’s annual gala on October 12, their biggest fundraiser of the year, which will honor Christine Todd Whitman, former Governor of NJ and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We are all very proud to receive formal accreditation from the National Land Trust Commission,” stated Sally Rubin, Executive Director of Great Swamp Watershed Association. “The Trust’s seal of approval is extremely valuable to GSWA and to our specific plans for greater activism in the future. Like many in our country right now, GSWA is inspired and invested in taking a more active approach when it comes to the debates regarding our planet. This national recognition places GSWA in a select group, and underscores our strong commitment to permanent land conservation, protecting New Jersey’s ecological havens, and using facts, science, and education when it comes to creating environmental policy.”
It was through a series of land acquisitions over the course of many years that led to the GSWA’s ownership of 53 acres of undeveloped land. This was the catalyst to applying for the National Land Trust designation. This plot of land, known as the Conservation Management Area (CMA) is fully protected and stewarded by the GSWA. “It’s a great example our preservation efforts. The CMA is an ecological gem; free of deer and invasive species, and home to several state and federally designated threatened species. It’s an excellent spot for families, schools, community groups, and individuals to hike the trails and learn more about what we do through our interpretive signs,” stated Ms. Rubin. Through this accreditation, GSWA will continue to focus on securing additional environmentally sensitive properties in the area. For those interested in working with GSWA to preserve land in the region, contact information can be found on their website at www.greatswamp.org.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission is an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The process by which an organization achieves this accreditation is a rigorous one. Applicants are required to provide extensive documentation and undergo a comprehensive review, providing proof of sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and lasting stewardship of the lands they protect. Once achieved, accreditation ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands.
“It’s exciting to recognize Great Swamp Watershed 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.”
About the Great Swamp Watershed Association
Founded in 1981, GSWA is an environmental non-profit organization located in Harding, NJ. GSWA is dedicated to protecting and improving the waters and land of Great Swamp Watershed region and the Passaic River from the Great Swamp headwaters to Newark Bay, for present and future generations. Through education, advocacy, science, land preservation, and stewardship, in collaboration with partners, GSWA works to instill its communities with an awareness of water’s effect on health and the beauty of the environment, from source to sea. The organization educates more than 2,500 school children, monitors 49 stream locations, and holds over 40 public events each year.
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—their work in the nation’s capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; their education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and their comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities. For more, visit www.landtrustalliance.org.