Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization, announced it has been awarded accreditation status by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the national Land Trust Alliance.

“Receiving accreditation status during our 40th year seems a fitting testament to MCHT’s commitment to permanent land conservation — including ongoing care for the properties we protect,” said Tom Ireland, MCHT’s board chairman and president. “Our land trust is a stronger organization today having gone through the rigorous accreditation program, and this will help us build on our years of experience in conserving some of Maine’s most critical lands.”

Founded on Mount Desert Island in 1970, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has protected Aldermere Farm in Rockport and a total of 135,000 acres in Maine, from the Isles of Shoals to Cobscook Bay, including more than 290 entire coastal islands. These land protection successes will assure continued public access to the coast for traditional activities such as hiking, fishing, clamming and nature observation.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust was one of the first land conservation organizations in the United States to partner with private landowners, municipalities and other community partners to use voluntary conservation agreements to protect the land. To further its efforts, Maine Coast Heritage Trust founded the Maine Land Trust Network in 1995. MLTN is a network of the state’s 100 land trusts formed to build land conservation capacity and to unite and strengthen Maine’s collective conservation efforts.

“Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “The accreditation seal lets the public know that Maine Coast Heritage Trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land. We’re thrilled that MCHT, with its leadership role managing the Maine Land Trust Network, is one of the first organizations in Maine to have taken this important step.”