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Three Western New York land trusts, including two in Erie County, have received more than $100,000 in grants from the state department of Environmental Conservation.

The grants are part of $1.4 million distributed under the Conservation Partnership Program.

Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo will receive $49,000 over two years, allowing the group to hire a second full-time employee and the first dedicated program manager in its 21-year history. The new hire will enable the group to expand its community outreach and education programs, improve garden stewardship and take a proactive approach as an emerging urban land trust.

The group currently supports 70 community gardens on lots that were vacant and abandoned in Buffalo.

The Western New York Land Conservancy received two grants that will help it to gain national accreditation. With a $25,000 grant, the conservancy will hire a temporary project coordinator to review compliance with the standards and practices of the national Land Trust Alliance.

“When we’re accredited, then we have to be rigorous in adhering to those standards,” said Jajean Rose-Burney, development coordinator of the conservancy. “It also is sort of a stamp of approval.”

The conservancy will use a $15,000 grant to update its website to inform and attract landowners, volunteers, donors and conservation partners in its eight-county service area.

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy in Jamestown will be receiving $15,000 to support its efforts to bring its lands management program into compliance with national standards and practices by surveying 11 properties and developing updated management plans for six properties.

The New York State Conservation Partnership Program is a public-private partnership providing competitive matching grants for qualified land trusts throughout the state for building land trust capacity and increasing the pace and quality of conservation.

The Land Trust Alliance, a national conservation group, administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with the DEC. The grants, funded through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, will be matched by $1.3 million in private and local funding.

“The Conservation Partnership Program is unique in the nation,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “The state’s investment in building land trust capacity multiplies several times in benefits to local communities, improving both the local economy and environment.”

email: bobrien@buffnews.com