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Area land trusts awarded over $150k in state grants

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Five north country land trusts received a total of $150,300 in state grants to further their conservation efforts.

Ontario Bays Initiative has secured a $6,500 grant from the Land Trust Alliance that will help the Chaumont-based land trust improve its organizational practices and protect an area vital to migrating birds.

James O. LaPlante, chairman of the board of directors of the Ontario Bays Initiative Inc., said the all-volunteer organization hopes to earn the status of a land trust that meets the national standard of excellence accreditation within the next few years.

This means OBI needs to be in compliance with national standards and practices that are set forth by the Land Trust Alliance.

The grant funds awarded Monday will help the land trust meet such standards by allowing it to improve and enhance record-keeping, improve institutional memory and further develop and implement policies.

Accredited land trusts are able to display a seal indicating that they meet national standards for excellence and uphold the public trust and that conservation efforts are permanent.

The land trust recently finalized an organizational work plan to develop and implement policies to conform to Land Trust Alliance standards and practices, according to an OBI news release.

The latest grant funding also will allow the land trust to further its conservation effort on state-owned land on Point Peninsula.

In 2008, OBI received a $4,000 grant to develop a conservation plan for this 8-square-mile property on the interior of the peninsula — an area vital to migrating and wintering birds as well as waterfowl and grassland birds.

Other area grant recipients were:

n Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Watertown, which received a two-year grant worth $75,000 to hire a full-time land protection manager to oversee its farmland protection program with Fort Drum and the U.S. Department of Defense.

n Thousand Islands Land Trust, Clayton, which received two grants totaling $32,000 to protect a property in the Thousand Islands that harbors wetlands and several threatened species and to support outreach programs.

n Indian River Lakes Conservancy, Redwood, which was awarded two grants valued at $24,800 for outreach and to develop conservation plans for land it acquired last year.

n St. Lawrence Land Trust, Canton, which received $12,000 to build its organization and communicate its mission to rural county communities and landowners.

According to a release sent out by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Land Trust Alliance, $1.4 million of grants were awarded to 53 land trusts throughout the state. Public funds through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund will be matched by $1.2 million in private and local funding.

Times staff writer Gordon Block contributed to this report.

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