The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust has received a national honor that has only gone to a select few conservation organizations. Land trust officials hope the recognition will help them in their efforts to conserve wild lands on the Kenai Peninsula.
The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust is the oldest land trust in Alaska. Executive Director Marie McCarty says the organization started as a grassroots effort in Homer back in 1989.
KHLT works peninsula-wide, protecting wildlife habitats for fish moose and bears, operating recreational areas and preserving historic places. All told, the land trust oversees more than 3,000 acres of land on the Kenai Peninsula. With a staff of only five people, Kachemak Heritage has its hands full, working with private landowners to conserve land and helping other entities – like the City of Homer – manage some of their conservation lands.
Earlier this month, the land trust was awarded accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, a distinction that says the organization meets national standards for excellence, upholds the public trust and ensures that its conservation efforts are permanent.
"We're incredibly proud of this," said McCarty. "It's been a phenomenal amount of work and our board and staff have really put their noses to the grindstone. We're really pleased."
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission is an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, a national conservation group. The accreditation is important, McCarty says, because it shows the land trust is in it for the long haul.
McCarty hopes the accreditation will show landowners, potential donors and the broader Kenai Peninsula community that the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust is able to meet the promises it has made to conserve its land for generations to come.