Northern Waters Land Trust completed the rigorous review process and became accredited by the Land Trust Alliance the summer of 2019. 

Joining a national commitment to excellence

We are part of the more than 442 accredited land trusts who demonstrate their commitment to professional excellence, helping to maintain the public’s trust in their work.

Northern Waters Land Trust is only the second organization in Minnesota to earn this valued accreditation. 

Each accredited land trust must apply for renewal every five years and undergoes a comprehensive review as part of its renewal application. The process is rigorous and strengthens the land trust so they can help landowners and communities achieve their conservation goals.

What is a land trust?

Land trusts are closely tied to the communities they protect and are involved in conserving land for its natural features and resources, as well as historical, cultural, scenic, and recreational values. Land trusts are organized at the local, regional, and state level and receive their funding primarily from charitable contributions and sometimes from state and federal initiatives.

They preserve land by purchasing it, transferring it, accepting donations of land or funds to purchase the land, or accepting the donation of a conservation easement. In instances, they may purchase the easement. Often, land trusts work collaboratively with other local conservation organizations to preserve properties that have significant conservation value.


What does accreditation mean for a land trust? 

Accreditation means that this land trust abides by the Land Trust Standards and Practices and operates in an ethical, legal and technically sound manner.

The key elements of the accreditation process are:

  • Sound Finances
  • Ethical Conduct
  • Responsible Governance
  • Lasting Stewardship

Sound Finances
Northern Waters Land Trust has developed a strategic five-year development plan to build and maintain sufficient operating reserves to sustain operations. The board provides oversight of NWLT’s finances and operations by: (a) reviewing and approving an annual budget, (b) working to ensure that sufficient financial resources are available, (c) receiving and reviewing financial reports and statements quarterly, (d) reviewing the externally prepared financial audit, review or compilation We utilize a financial audit bi-annually, and carry general liability, directors and officers liability and all other insurances as required by law. We have established written internal controls and accounting procedures, including segregation of duties to prevent the misuse or loss of funds. As a 501(c)3, we provide timely written acknowledgment of all gifts, including land and conservation easements, in keeping with IRS charitable contribution substantiation requirements.

Ethical Conduct
The NWLT Board reviews and approves every land and conservation easement transaction, and does not knowingly participate in transactions that are potentially fraudulent or abusive. We have developed written project-selection criteria that are consistent with NWLT’s conservation priorities

Responsible Governance
Northern Waters Land Trust has established strategic goals for implementing our mission. We operate by bylaws, utilizing a Board of Directors that represents our geographic area and a variety of backgrounds, experiences and skills. We have a written conflict of interest and confidentiality policies that all Board, staff, contractors and volunteers sign. We have also created a written records policy that governs how and when NWLT organization and transaction records are created, collected, retained, stored and destroyed.

Lasting Stewardship
NWLT monitors each conservation easement property at least once per calendar year. We have adopted a written policy and develop written procedures for documenting and responding to potential conservation easement violations, as well as easement amendments. If there are significant changes to the land or the conservation easement (such as a result of an amendment or the exercise of a permitted right), document those changes in an appropriate manner, such as through monitoring reports, a baseline supplement or current conditions report. We strive to have a written land management plan for each conservation property within 12 months after acquiring the land.

Learn more about accreditation here: Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission.

Land Trust Alliance Accreditation


The Accreditation Commission is an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization. The Commission recognizes conservation excellence by awarding the accreditation seal to land trusts that meet the highest national standards for excellence and conservation permanence.