Friday, August 29, 2014 · 4:21 p.m.

Lookout Mountain Conservancy earns national recognition

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The former Sexton-Williams property at the base of Lookout Mountain will soon become part of a new 20-acre public park. (Photo: Lookout Mountain Conservancy)

The Lookout Mountain Conservancy announced today that it has been awarded national accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance. 

Of the 1,700 groups of this type across the country, only 230 conservation groups have been awarded this accreditation since the fall of 2008. It is the third in Tennessee to receive the designation.

Dr. Chris Moore is one of the pioneers of the conservation efforts that went into establishing the Lookout Mountain Conservancy. His family has lived in Chattanooga for many generations. 

"It was something that ran in our family, this love of the land and our community," Moore said in a prepared statement. 

The Lookout Mountain Conservancy is a local land trust that works with area landowners to create conservation plans and voluntary conservation agreements. Landowners continue to own the land and manage the land and can sell, lease, give it away or mortgage the land. It stays in private ownership and on the tax rolls. 

The conservancy also works to establish trails and parks, working with volunteers and students to enrich their academic experiences. Most recently, this work has been focused on the John Wilson Park on the eastern slope of Lookout Mountain and working with students in a summer program. 

The accreditation process involves the external review of many documents and procedures over a 12- to 18-month period by the Land Trust Alliance's Accreditation Commission, which is an organization established specifically to oversee the conservation excellence of land trusts nationwide. 

"It is great news," Moore said. "Lookout Mountain Conservancy's accredited status demonstrates what I have always known. This is an organization that takes local conservation seriously, including all the details needed for permanent land conservation."

This fall, the Lookout Mountain Conservancy will complete the Civil War historical review on the John Wilson Park extension. 

"The economic vitality of the Chattanooga area rests on a strong partnership between jobs, our beautiful river and mountains, and the recreational amenities that both enrich those of us who live here as well as bringing in tourists all year long," Ron Harr, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a prepared statement. "We need great schools and healthy families, too. Having a strong local conservation group like the Lookout Mountain Conservancy who cares about people as much as the land is important. We're delighted to hear that they have received this award."

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