In 2019, the Northern Waters Land Trust became accredited by the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission. 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 as establish 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.

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