Mesa Land Trust receives national accreditation

The Mesa Land Trust is now officially on the list — right between the Maui Coastal and the Minnesota land trusts — accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

On Tuesday the land trust celebrated being included among the 53 land trusts across the United States that have received the accreditation, even though the designation was given in February.

“It demonstrates that they made a commitment to national standards for nonprofits and land
trusts,” said Laura DiBetta, program manager for the Land Trust Accreditation program.

She said she hopes the accreditation will be enough for land owners considering granting easements to the Mesa Land Trust “to say this is a land trust that I can work with.”

The Mesa Land Trust, founded in 1980, had to submit “67 pounds of documents to the accreditation office” for review, said Rob Bleiberg, executive director. “They literally went through all our files.”

Despite the party mood of all who were in attendance during the Mesa Land Trust’s celebration, at its headquarters on the corner of 10th and Main streets, the significance of the accreditation was not lost on Bleiberg. He said it will add confidence to those donating money or land to the Mesa Land Trust and to political leaders who support the land trust’s efforts.

“We feel it is important to demonstrate to the people that we are doing these things as well as possible,” he said.

In the three years the accreditation commission has been in existence only one land trust has been denied accreditation, DiBetta said.

Additionally, 12 percent of applicants withdraw from the program and take more time to put in place policies and procedures that meet the national accreditation commission’s standards, she said.

“It is absolutely a rigorous thing,” DiBetta said.

Also there to help the Mesa Land Trust celebrate was former state legislator Norma Anderson, now the chairwoman of Great Outdoors Colorado, which distributes state lottery funds to preserve open space.

Anderson was in town to personally tour a property in the Fruita buffer zone for which Mesa Land Trust is attempting to get conservation easements. Neither she nor Bleiberg would reveal the location of the parcel.

In Colorado there are seven accredited land trusts, including Mesa Land Trust.


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