San Benito Agricultural Land Trust (SBALT) announced Feb. 25 that it achieved national recognition through the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
It joins more than 450 land trusts across the nation to receive the honor.
“Accreditation demonstrates SBALT’s commitment to local agriculture and open space through permanent conservation of land in partnership with volunteer landowners,” said Vice President and Founder Paul Hain.
Since 1993, SBALT has worked to protect the agricultural land that supports the industry and the rural character of San Benito County.
“We are a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program. The four-year process resulted in a highly educated board of directors and our first paid staff,” said Board President Emily Renzel. “We are grateful to the Community Foundation for San Benito County for the community impact grants that allowed us to do this important work.”
SBALT provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction.
Accredited land trusts throughout the United States steward almost 20 million acres of land.
“National accreditation gives our landowners, partner organizations, public agencies and our donors confidence in SBALT’s ability to conduct land conservation in San Benito County successfully,” said Secretary Cathy Summa-Wolfe. “We are excited to be able to display the seal that lets everyone know we have met these high standards.”
SBALT’s recent accomplishments include accepting the management and eventual fee ownership of the 540-acre Nyland Property south of Highway 156 in San Juan Bautista, and the permanent protection of 27 acres of the Phil Foster Ranch, also known as Pinnacle Organically Grown, with another 24 acres of this farm to be protected in 2022.
SBALT seeks to increase public access to conservation lands in San Benito County for outdoor recreation, and will offer regular hikes on its two fee properties in the coming months.
“It is exciting to recognize San Benito Agricultural Land Trust with this national mark of distinction,” said Melissa Kalvestrand, executive director of the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 450 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and lasting stewardship.”