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Land trusts get state grants to grow

May 18, 2012
By MIKE LYNCH - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

LAKE PLACID - Four nonprofit land trusts based in Essex County received a total of $106,900 in grants this April.

The money came from the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Environmental Protection Fund. Overall, Conservation Partnership Program grants totaling $1.4 million were awarded to 53 nonprofit land trusts across the state. The grants will be matched by a total of $1.2 million in private and local funding.

The North Elba Land Conservancy received two grants totaling $14,400. The money will go toward maintaining a 133-acre conservation easement on Intervale Lowlands property, located on the West Branch of the AuSable River off of River Road. The rest of the grant will go toward conducting an organizational assessment, the first step in the process toward national accreditation.

Accreditation is important because it gives "landowners more confidence that we know what we are doing, because it's a national organization," said Patricia Hopkinson, board president of the North Elba Land Conservancy.

The Placid Lake Foundation received two grants totaling $12,500 to support an outreach project and to conduct an organizational assessment.

"This outreach project will enable the Placid Lake Foundation to partner with the North Elba Land Conservancy and other local organizations to convene and educate local landowners, attorneys, Realtors and other land trust members during a July workshop," Placid Lake Foundation board President Sara Jane DeHoff said in a press release.

The workshop will be led by Stephen Small, a lawyer and author of "Preserving Family Lands," according to Placid Lake Foundation Executive Director Christian Weber. Small specializes in federal tax law, especially in regard to family easements, Weber said.

"He's recognized as the nation's leading authority on private land protection options and strategies," Weber said.

The Placid Lake Foundation's second grant, like that for the North Elba Land Conservancy, will help support an organizational assessment to become nationally accredited.

The foundation has been around for 20 years but is looking to become more active. One of its first big steps in this direction was to hire Weber in January.

"They are looking to increase their potential protective scope and to grow and integrate more with the community and become more of an active land trust," Weber said.

Other land trusts to receive grants were Champlain Area Trails and the Lake Champlain Land Trust.

Champlain Area Trails received one grant of $50,000 over two years to support the hiring of a communications director who will also assist with administration and fundraising. These funds will be matched almost equally through private and local funding.

"One of the challenges we face as a new nonprofit is to communicate effectively," Executive Director Chris Maron said in a press release. "The advances in social media provide new opportunities to connect with people and encourage participation. People want to make a difference, and this grant enables us to show how they can get involved in making trails and saving land."

Champlain Area Trails, whose office is in Westport, is developing trails in New York's Champlain Valley to link communities, connect people with nature and promote economic vitality.

The Lake Champlain Land Trust received one grant totaling $20,000 to enable it to help communities, partners and other land trusts conserve lakeshore, wetlands, canoe access points, hiking areas and natural areas on the New York side of Lake Champlain.



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