Save Mount Diablo began just as many land trusts do; with a concern for the impact of growth and development on an area or a natural feature. In our area, that natural feature was Mount Diablo. The public perception is that all of Mount Diablo and its foothills are included in the State Park. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
We began in 1971, with a group of representatives from city recreation commissions, hiking, biking, horsemen’s clubs, an archery club, the AAUW, the Sierra Club, the Contra Costa Park Council and others. Many hours were spent around kitchen tables discussing development applications and how to raise funds to spur acquisition. Over the years, staff have been hired and Board members have assisted SMD’s evolution as an increasingly successful and professional community organization. We are proud of our achievements over the last 44 years! We have been mindful of our organization’s processes and procedures. We knew however, that many governing and grant funding agencies were looking more closely at land trusts’ business practices. We are a member of the national Land Trust Alliance, which first pioneered Standards and Practices, and then a national accreditation program to help make sure preserved land would be protected forever, by organizations with solid finances and increasingly effective procedures.
“My dream is that the whole of Mount Diablo, including its foothills, will remain
open space…that the visual and natural integrity will be sustained.”
Dr. Mary L. Bowerman
Overseen by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, the process of accreditation is very important for the land trust movement. Accreditation affords organizations the opportunity to review their policies and procedures and to implement those that will assist the organization to be even more effective.
Being accredited helps a land trust stand out and to ensure to landowners, funders, and supporters that the organization is strong and can be trusted to conserve land in perpetuity. This is the dream of our founders.
In the Spring of 2013, our Board reviewed the requirements and agreed that we should pursue accreditation. The process was rigorous! Our staff, board members and volunteers read, wrote, and reviewed our policies and procedures to ensure our standards and practices and capacity meet the national quality standards. We spent over 1000 hours to prepare and complete the pre-application and application. We assembled eight, 3” wide 3-ring binders with our documentation and examples. We read, re-read and read some more before we sent in our application in May 2015. In September of 2015, we had a conference call with the Accreditation Commission to review their questions. In December of 2015, we provided further documentation. We waited (somewhat patiently) for the call in February 2016 from the Accreditation Commission to advise that we were successful in our quest to obtain National Accreditation! Our Executive Director, Ted Clement, will walk across the stage at the Land Trust Alliance Rally in October to receive our award.
It will be a continuation of our striving for excellence and public accountability and it will allow us to build our capacity to preserve, defend, restore and enjoy land for future generations!
By Nicole Murphy
Save Mount Diablo