San Benito Agricultural Land Trust Achieves National Accreditation

Accredited land trusts across the United States manage nearly 20 million acres of land.

Information provided by San Benito Agricultural Land Trust

the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust (SBALT) announced that it has achieved national recognition, joining a network of more than 450 accredited land trusts across the country that have “demonstrated a commitment to professional excellence and maintaining public confidence in their work.”

“Accreditation demonstrates SBALT’s commitment to local agriculture and open spaces through permanent land conservation in partnership with willing landowners.” said Paul Hain, Vice President and Founder.

“We are a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program. The four-year process resulted in a highly qualified Board of Directors and our first paid staff. said Emily Renzel, Chair of the Board. “We are grateful to the San Benito County Community Foundation for Community Impact Grants that have enabled us to do this important work.”

SBALT said it provided extensive documentation and underwent a full third-party evaluation before earning this accolade. He added that the Land Trust Accreditation Commission granting accreditation signifies his confidence that the lands of SBALT will be protected forever.

The statement also noted that accredited land trusts across the United States manage nearly 20 million acres of land – an amount of land equivalent to the size of South Carolina, or 1/5 the size of the California.

“National accreditation gives our landowners, partner organizations, public agencies and donors confidence in SBALT’s ability to carry out land conservation in San Benito County,” said Secretary Cathy Summa-Wolfe. “We are delighted to be able to display the seal that lets everyone know that we have met these high standards.”

The release says SBALT’s recent accomplishments include accepting management and eventual fee ownership of the 540-acre Nyland property south of Highway 156 in San Juan Bautista, and permanently protecting 27 acres of the Phil Foster Ranch, also known as Pinnacle Organically Grown, with 24 acres of this farm still to be protected in 2022.

He goes on to state that SBALT is working with San Benito County and the cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista to ensure SBALT is the go-to organization for permanent farmland protection following development mitigation. . Additionally, SBALT said it is looking to increase public access to San Benito County conservation lands for outdoor recreation and will be offering regular hikes on its two fee-paying properties in the coming months.

“It is exciting to recognize the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust with this national mark of distinction,” said Commission Executive Director Melissa Kalvestrand. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 450 accredited land trusts across the country that are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and sustainable management.

The release says SBALT is the only local land trust in San Benito County and has worked since 1993 to protect farmland that supports a vibrant industry and the rural character of San Benito County.

The San Benito Farm Land Trust is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States, according to the Land Trust Alliance’s latest National Land Trust Census. A full list of accredited land trusts and more information on the process and benefits can be found at

Amalia H. Mercado