This is a lenghty article...but stay with
it and find out what's really going on with the Conservancy.
Organization: The Nature Conservancy
Source: The National Center for Public Policy Research
Activity Summary: EXTREME
Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is indisputably
the wealthiest organization in the environmental movement with an budget
approaching $300 million per year. The group's mission is to save environmentally
valuable land through private acquisition.
This private sector approach has earned The Conservancy praise from liberals
and free market advocates alike. But The Nature Conservancy's approach
to the environment is not as free market and mainstream as the group would
have its supporters believe. Over the years, TNC has developed cozy relationships
with conservation agencies at all levels of government. Not only have
these relationships allowed The Conservancy to finance many of its supposed
"private-sector" land purchases with taxpayer money, but, according
to numerous accounts, it has allowed the group to profit handsomely from
According to a June 12, 1992 Washington Times report, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
officials paid The Nature Conservancy $4.5 million in 1988 and 1989 for
land in the Little River National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, $1 million
more than the land's appraised value. In 1989, the Bureau of Land Management
gave The Conservancy $1.4 million for land the group had purchased for
just $1.26 million in a simultaneous transaction. Washington Times author
Ken Smith noted, "Up to the point of the transaction, The Conservancy
had forked over exactly $100 for a purchase option agreement on the land.
Wall Street investors in jail for insider trading never got a $140,000
return on a $100 investment." No doubt the deal was lucrative enough
to make even Hillary Clinton, who turned a $1,000 investment in cattle
futures into $100,000, green with envy.
Revelations that land trust groups such as The Nature Conservancy had
made big profits off government land deals led to an investigation by
the U.S. Department of Interior's Inspector General in 1992. The investigation
found that the department had spent $7.1 million more than necessary on
64 land deals between 1986 and 1991.
There have been other government reports critical of Nature Conservancy
land deals as well. In 1991, the Missouri state auditor found that the
state "paid $500,000 more than necessary on six land purchases from
the Conservancy," according to a June 19, 1994 Newhouse News Service
report. "The auditor claimed there was a conspiracy to jack up the
sales price on these tracts to help the organization regain $400,000 in
losses claimed on two state park deals that went sour. That was a violation
of state financial regulations..."
The Nature Conservancy's favorable land deals may be more than mere coincidence.
William Moran, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife whistle-blower reported to Congress
that his superior continued to handle land deals with The Nature Conservancy
while applying for a job with the organization. In another apparent case
of conflict of interest, a director for a state office of the Bureau of
Land Management presided over complex land deals involving The Conservancy
while serving a member of the Conservancy's state board of
The Conservancy has other ways of tapping into taxpayer funds as well
-- and for purposes that have nothing to do with land acquisition. In
1993, for example, the group received a $44,100 grant from the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for a Florida Keys National Marine
outreach program. This "outreach" included developing and directing
a "plan to counter opposition's push for county-wide referendum against
the establishment of the sanctuary" and recruiting "local residents
to speak out against the referendum at two Board of County Commissioners
hearings." In other words, The Conservancy used taxpayer dollars
to lobby. So much for the group's moderate reputation.
But government land deals and grants aren't the only controversies surrounding
The Nature Conservancy. The group has frequently been accused of using
intimidation tactics to force private landowners to sell their land. In
one of the most flagrant cases of intimidation, a state director for The
Conservancy threatened to have the government condemn a landowner's property
if he refused to sell it for annexation to the Cypress Creek National
Wildlife Refuge. "If your land is not acquired through voluntary
negotiation, we will recommend its acquisition through condemnation,"
wrote The Conservancy's Albert Pyott in 1993 to the landowner, Professor
Dieter Kuhn, a resident of Marburg, Germany.
Perhaps the greatest controversy involving The Conservancy occurred in
1994 when the group was found guilty by a federal judge of undue influence
over a dying man. The man, Dr. Frederic Gibbs, a medical researcher who
developed the electroencephalograph and conducted research in epilepsy,
willed a 95-acre farm to The Nature Conservancy. Officials with The Conservancy
apparently assisted Gibbs in changing his will after he had become mentally
Despite its much-vaunted concern for preserving the environment, The Nature
Conservancy nonetheless accepts contributions from such environmentally-harmful
businesses as oil companies. The group is not particularly a friend of
America's most disadvantaged Americans -- minorities. In 1990, it teamed
up with the National Audubon Society to oppose a sheep grazing program
by poor Chicanos in New Mexico even though the grazing was essential for
an economic development project.
Selected Nature Conservancy Quotes
A Nature Conservancy official explaining how The Conservancy helps government
agencies circumvent democracy....
"We do work closely with USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
We buy these properties when they need to be bought, so that at some point
we can become the willing seller (to government). This helps the government
get around the problem of local opposition." -The Nature Conservancy's
William Weeks quoted by syndicated columnist Warren T. Brookes, January
The Nature Conservancy making a German landowner feel at home -- in Nazi-era
Germany, that is...
"If your land is not acquired through voluntary negotiation, we will
recommend its acquisition through condemnation." -Albert Pyott, former
Illinois state director of The Nature Conservancy, threatening Dieter
Kuhn of Marburg, Germany, quoted in The New Orleans Times Picayune, June
Organization: The Nature Conservancy
Source: American Policy Center
Activity Summary: EXTREME
LAND GRABBING SECRETS OF THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
TNC American Policy Center Article
Wednesday, August 04, 1999
Never heard of The Nature Conservancy? Well, that's probably no accident.
It keeps a low profile by design. When you run scams like it does, you
don't want to be notorious.
So let's lift the rock off these slugs and shine a very bright spotlight
on a few of their most outrageous games.
The Nature Conservancy is the richest, most powerful environmental colossus
in the world. It claims 680,000 individual members and 405 corporate members
operating out of eight regional offices and fifty chapter offices across
the nation. The Nature Conservancy has assets of almost $1 Billion and
has an annual operating budget of over $300 million and a staff of 1150
THE SCAM - real estate. THE HOOK - "conservation through private
action." According to the party line, The Nature Conservancy simply
buys land with private money and sets up nature reserves, thereby helping
the environment without infringing on anybody. What a wonderful, charitable
idea. Ah, if only it were true.
THE VICTIMS - unsuspecting property owners (many times elderly). THE METHODS
- hide behind phony corporations; serve as a shill for government agencies;
work behind the scenes with more visible environmental groups to intimidate
property owners into selling. THE GOAL - money and power.
The Nature Conservancy frequently uses phony front companies to get land
from owners who wouldn't knowingly sell to an environmentalist group.
It used this tactic to purchase most of the islands off the coast of Virginia,
containing 40,000 acres and sixty miles of coastline. In doing so The
Nature Conservancy was able to stop all private development and control
the use of the land, damaging the tax base, killing thousands of jobs,
and severely curbing the locals from hunting, fishing, camping and joy
riding on the islands.
But don't think the purpose was to preserve these beautiful, pristine
islands for nature. The Nature Conservancy did bar others from developing
the land - but not itself. Far from it. At a huge profit, the Conservancy
developed up-scale homes for the rich.
But how is that bad? If they do it with private money what's wrong with
it? Isn't that just free enterprise?
The problem is The Nature Conservancy is a non-profit organization with
tax exempt status and they maintain that status because of their tightly
protected image as benevolent conservationists. Moreover, property owners
on the islands wanted to invest in development and thought they were selling
their land to developers. They were aware of and frightened by the Nature
Conservancy and would never have sold to the group. That's why the Conservancy
hid behind a phony land company, grabbed power, foiled the development
and made a huge profit on tax-exempt mon
Other times, The Nature Conservancy acts as a shill to a government agency
to acquire land cheaply and sell it to the government at a huge profit.
Again, conservation is not the goal.
One of its favorite scams goes something like this. Your grandmother owns
land close to a historic site or a wilderness area. The government wants
the land to expand a park but grandmother won't sell.
One day a representative of the Nature Conservancy shows up, well dressed,
smiling, but concerned. He tells your grandmother that he's just learned
that the government intends to take her land after she passes away. She
won't be able to sell it or give it to her children. However, he can offer
If Grandmother will sell her land to The Nature Conservancy he can assure
her that the land will stay in private hands and not be taken by the government.
Well, a relieved grandmother is much happier and she agrees to sell. However,
says the nice man from The Nature Conservancy, because the government
has threatened to take the land, its value is now only about half its
reported market value. That's all he'll be able to pay her. Well, thinks
grandmother, half is better than nothing, so she sells.
The next day our friend from The Nature Conservancy makes a call to the
Department of the Interior informing them that their plan has worked.
The whole thing had been pre-arranged between them before anyone ever
knocked on Grandmother's door. As arranged, The Nature Conservancy then
sells the land to the Interior Department FOR FULL MARKET VALUE PLUS OVERHEAD,
FINANCING AND HANDLING CHARGES.
Hundreds of complaints have been recorded concerning the practices of
the Conservancy's land grabbing operation. One family in Indiana had to
sue to get back their father's land that was signed over to The Nature
Conservancy when he was very old and mentally incompetent to handle his
affairs. Agents of the Conservancy had helped him in changing documents
that left his entire estate to The Nature Conservancy. The family won
back their property but only after being forced to spend a fortune in
Unfortunately space allows only a minor look at the mammoth operation
of The Nature Conservancy. Its power, wealth and control is almost beyond
comprehension. Yet it is able to maintain an image of idealism and concern
for the environment.
The truth is The Nature Conservancy is really little more than a massive,
ruthless real estate machine using its tax exempt status and ties to the
government to create wealth for itself.
So If ever you receive a knock on the door from a smiling representative
of The Nature Conservancy, slam it in his face and rush to your neighbors
to sound the alarm, or the saying "there goes the neighborhood"
could take on a completely different meaning. $Just a sample:
The Nature Conservancy Land PurchasesNature Conservancy protects 2,800
acres of shrub-steppe April 2, 2001 -- The Nature Conservancy of Washington
has purchased 2,800 acres in development rights adjacent to a small subdivision
in Douglas County, protecting important open space for property-owners
$2.5 million gift from Allen Foundation helps protect rare coastal forest
March 14, 2001 -- The Nature Conservancy of Washington has received a
$2.5 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Forest Protection Foundation
to protect the Ellsworth Creek watershed.
Nature Conservancy to protect entire coastal watershed in Southwest Washington
September 27, 2000 -- The Nature Conservancy of Washington has launched
an ambitious campaign to protect an entire coastal watershed in Southwest
Public invited to Ebey's Landing Celebration Aug. 6th July 26, 2000 --
The Nature Conservancy of Washington and the Trust Board of Ebey's Landing
National Historical Reserve will host a gathering on Sunday, Aug. 6, to
celebrate protection of the famous headland and adjacent forestland.
Nature Conservancy to begin restoration work at popular Dishman Hills
July 18, 2000 -- A Nature Conservancy team will begin work this week to
restore the Dishman Hills Natural Resources Conservation Area, a heavily
visited state-owned natural area in need of weed control and restoration.
Senate approves $2 million for Ebey's Landing July 18, 2000 -- The U.S.
Senate on Tuesday approved $2 million to help protect Ebey's Landing on
Whidbey Island, a huge step in ensuring that portions of this famous windswept
headland go into public ownership.
Nature Conservancy expands Beezley Hills Preserve by 1,120 acres June
7, 2000 -- The Nature Conservancy of Washington has added 1,120 acres
to its Beezley Hills Preserve near Quincy in Grant County, making the
now 4,300-acre preserve the largest Conservancy preserve in Washington
Nature Conservancy buys 387 acres at Ebey's Landing June 2, 2000 -- The
Nature Conservancy of Washington purchased 387 acres on Ebey's Landing
Friday, the largest single acquisition since community leaders began their
efforts to protect this spectacular headland more than 20 years ago
Badger Mountain property near Wenatchee donated to Nature Conservancy
May 15, 2000 -- A family with deep roots in Douglas County has donated
325 acres on Badger Mountain to The Nature Conservancy of Washington,
a move that puts a high-quality remnant of the region's natural heritage
into permanent protection.
Celebrate Puget Sound Prairies with bird, butterfly and flower walks May
12, 2000 -- Community members are invited to a day of bird, flower and
butterfly walks in Western Washington's last remaining native prairies
on Saturday, May 20, in Thurston County.
Nature Conservancy hires experienced managers to open North Central office
April 20, 2000 -- The Nature Conservancy of Washington has hired Nancy
and Chuck Warner to launch a new program in North Central Washington,
where they will work closely with the community to protect Washington's
ecologically rich shrub-steppe.
Nature Conservancy moving forward to protect Ebey's Landing March 29,
2000 -- Buoyed by a strong show of financial and community support, The
Nature Conservancy of Washington has decided to move forward on its acquisition
at Ebey's Landing, ensuring protection of this remarkable headland.
Nature Conservancy protects key salmon habitat near Sauk River Tuesday,
March 7, 2000 -- In a move that will protect critical salmon spawning
habitat, The Nature Conservancy of Washington has purchased 387 acres
of forestland in the Sauk River watershed between Rockport and Darrington.
Nature Conservancy launches effort to protect Ebey's Landing Thursday,
January 27, 2000 -- The Nature Conservancy of Washington is about to launch
an ambitious, four-month fundraising campaign in an attempt to save the
heart of Ebey's Landing, a historically rich and stunningly beautiful
swath of coastal prairie and forestland.
Willapa wildlife refuge expansion means cleaner bay, healthier salmon
December 27, 1999 -- Two properties on ecologically rich Willapa Bay have
been acquired by the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, protecting critical
salmon and shorebird habitat in one of the largest and cleanest estuaries
in the country.
Nature Conservancy acquisition protects rare bat maternity colony
December 3, 1999 -- In a move that could help sustain the state's dwindling
bat population, The Nature Conservancy of Washington has stepped forward
to protect one of only four maternity colonies of the Pacific Townsend's
big-eared bat known to exist in Washington state.
Researchers find bats abound at Moses Coulee Preserve
August 31, 1999 -- Bat researchers working at The Nature Conservancy's
Moses Coulee Preserve in Central Washington have recorded 13 different
bat species over the last three months, suggesting the area is one of
the richest bat habitats in the state.
Rare Eastern Washington "meadow" safeguarded for future generations
Monday, August 2, 1999 -- The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
and The Nature Conservancy of Washington have purchased 200 acres of lush
meadow and pine forests near Wenatchee, safeguarding a significant piece
of the state's rich natural legacy.
Nature Conservancy purchase on Burrows Island benefits public
Thursday, June 17, 1999 -- The Nature Conservancy of Washington has bought
64 acres on Burrows Island near Anacortes, a purchase that will benefit
the public and help to protect a rare grassland meadow.
Land purchase adds to ecologically rich Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
Thursday, May 27, 1999 -- A critical, five-acre swath of forest and tideland
has been added to the much-loved Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, thanks
to a cooperative effort by The Nature Conservancy of Washington and the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Nasdaq president to speak at Nature Conservancy luncheon
May 14, 1999 -- Alfred Berkeley, president of the Nasdaq Stock Market,
Inc., will be the keynote speaker at The Nature Conservancy of Washington's
awards luncheon on Tuesday, May 18th.
The Nature Conservancy purchases old-growth forest in Southwest Washington
from Hancock Timber Resource Group
Wednesday, May 5, 1999 -- Fulfilling a long-standing conservation goal,
The Nature Conservancy of Washington has bought 338.5 acres in Pacific
County's Willapa Hills from the Hancock Timber Resource Group (HTRG),
a parcel that supports one of the last coastal old-growth stands in Southwest
Former Bon CEO named Nature Conservancy volunteer of the year
March 31, 1999 -- Thomas Harville, the retired chief executive officer
of The Bon Marche, was named the 1999 volunteer of the year by The Nature
Conservancy of Washington.
PALS wins recognition by environmental educators
March 22, 1999 -- An innovative, field-based program that gives public
school teachers a chance to explore the Columbia Basin's arid landscape
won a top award from the Environmental Education Association of Washington.
The Nature Conservancy protects dramatic Central Washington landscape
The Nature Conservancy of Washington has acquired a 3,588-acre preserve
in Central Washington, an excellent example of shrub-steppe habitat and
an irreplaceable piece of Douglas County's natural heritage.
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