This is a lenghty article...but stay with it and find out what's really going on with the Conservancy.

File #1010022
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 such deals.
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 Sanctuary
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 incompetent.
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 23, 1991
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 19, 1994
File #1010023
Organization: The Nature Conservancy
Source: American Policy Center
Activity Summary: EXTREME
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 people.
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 a solution.
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 legal fees.
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 and wildlife.
$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 Washington.
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 state.
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 runs
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 Washington.
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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