We are currently focusing on three projects, land conservation, organizational development, and property monitoring.
In 2012, the Land Trust continued our work to permanently protect three properties in the northern part of Ashby as part of the Forest Legacy project known as the Southern Monadnock Plateau (SMP), Phase II. The Land Trust’s initial role in this project was landowner outreach and organizing preliminary appraisals. After the Forest Legacy funding was awarded, the Land Trust worked closely with the landowners, the Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA), and the Ashby Conservation Commission to move each individual land project to closure. Our primary responsibility in this phase was to organize and fund due diligence activities such as appraisals, review appraisals, surveys, and title work. In order to fund the due diligence for multiple simultaneous projects, the Land Trust applied for and received a bridge loan from the Fields Pond Foundation.
We are happy to report that closings were held on all three properties thereby adding 265 (+/-) acres to the others that have been permanently protected in Ashby using Forest Legacy funding. These projects are quite complex and involve coordination among many different players. We’d especially like to thank Al Futterman and Gary Howland from NRWA, and Cathy Kristofferson from the Ashby Conservation Commission for their efforts to conserve land in Ashby.
About 15 years ago the IRS became concerned about the practices of some large land conservation organizations. In response, the land trust community, under the auspices of the Land Trust Alliance, began to develop a professional credential for land trusts large and small, based on long established best practices. To become credentialed, land trusts must engage in a self-assessment, review all policies and procedures and bring them into line with the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices, and provide several years of supporting documentation that show compliance with the Standards. For the past three years we have been engaged in this process.
During 2012 the Board has reviewed all of our policies and procedures.
Each of our policies now accurately reflects our mission and capability to meet our responsibilities as a land conservation organization. In the fall of 2012, we engaged attorney Elizabeth Wroblicka to review our policies, suggest changes, and assist us in updating our by-laws. It has been rewarding to see that much of the work the Land Trust has done over the years is consistent with the Standards and Practices of the Land Trust Alliance. Codifying our practices into clearly described policies will make it easier for us to continue our work, and to pass along our knowledge to future board members.
Our next step is to register with the Accreditation Commission in May, and spend this year compiling the documentation that shows our compliance with our stated policies. This work will prepare us for our pre-application in January 2014. Thank you to Jeanie Lindquist who is heading this committee.
The Monitoring Committee has been tasked with reviewing all lands on which we hold a Conservation Restriction, including, Blood Hill, South Road Fields, Arnold Property (jointly held with New England Forestry Foundation) and the Morrison Property. All the baseline documentation and monitoring reports must meet the new accreditation requirements. Early in the year, we engaged Tim Silva to help the committee complete this work. Tim has been working closely with us, helping guide and write some of the necessary documents, and assisting us to update our monitoring policies and procedures. We have been working to review and compile all the necessary documentation to update both baselines and monitoring data. All the properties are in the final stages of review and sign-off. Thank you to Amy Aubertin, Sue Chapman and Bob Leary for their work on the monitoring committee this year.