Vultures in


THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those
who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves,
is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much
.

– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


 

Sightings from The Catbird Seat

~ o ~

From: “Carole Williams” <cjwms@up.net>

To: The Catbird

Subject: Uranium Mining – Western U.P. of Michigan? You betcha!

Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 19:11:13 -0500

I’m not anti-mining, but I do object to the sneaky way this was implemented.

No wonder there isn’t much Upper Peninsula land left in the hands of the “little Yooper people”…

February 7, 2007

WUPY~Y-101.1 FM, Ontonagon

http://www.wupy101.com/localne1.aspx

Bitterroot – Uranium Mining in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Another step has been completed that may bring hundreds of jobs back to the Western Upper Peninsula. Canadian-based Bitterroot Resources has been looking at bringing mining back to the Western Upper Peninsula for quite a few years. It was just last fall that the company did numerous core samples. Y-101 News has learned that just a few days ago Bitterroot Resources Ltd’s drilling contractor completed 1,322 meters of core drilling in seven holes in the Upper Peninsula. The drilling program successfully tested five unconformity-hosted uranium targets.

Core logging and sampling will continue this month with analytical results not expected before late April. It was last November that the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, NRC met with representatives from the DNR, Bitterroot and several other significant stakeholders. They reached consensus on the final wording of the DNR’s revised metallic minerals lease document. The metallic minerals lease document has been updated following more than two years of extensive consultation with various stakeholders, who collectively represent all sides of the issues concerning the future of mineral exploration and development in Michigan.

Who might these “significant stakeholders” be?

February 23, 2006

LAYING CLAIM TO
NATURE’S TREASURE CHEST

www.newswithviews.com/Williams/carole4.htm

(Out take of) PART 2 of 2

By Carole “CJ” Williams –

“…Bitterroot has been involved with the U.P. since 1996 or before, and signed on as an option/joint-venture partner with Kennecott Exploration involving certain goodies found while exploring mineral leases claimed by a Yooper exploration service.

Bitterroot is also involved in a “Great Michigan Peninsula Joint Venture” with Cameco, a Saskatchewan based global giant. Cameco boasts of being the world’s largest uranium producer and claims it will dominate nuclear energy by producing uranium fuel.

The venture is a complex deal, said to slant in Cameco’s favor, which covers an interest area encompassing 784 sq Upper Peninsula miles, of which Bitterroot has mineral right title to only 132. Cameco has the option to earn 65% of everything within the area of interest by spending $23.6 million over 18 years. The agreement is more detailed, but for expediency’s sake, we’ll forego the nitty-gritty.

In reality, Cameco is allowed to vest in various U.P. land units by spending $1 million to $10 million depending on the land unit. Through the deal made, it’s possible for Cameco to “sterilize” exploration on the entire package by focusing on one claim area where its vesting cost is only $1 million. These low-cost units tend to be public lands within an interest area that Bitterroot didn’t have title to when the deal was signed. Because of this, Cameco has been most eager to focus exploration on public land for which applications have already been made, but has been somewhat held up because Michigan is “reviewing” its mineral leasing laws.

At present the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Nature Conservancy, et al, are scrambling to convince the Michigan Supreme Court to reverse an Appeals’ Court decision that the State did not and does not have title to mineral rights on tax reverted land when mineral rights were and are severed from property rights; mineral rights are not taxable and cannot be seized for non-payment of property taxes. Leases to resource exploration and extraction companies fuel the Natural Resource Trust Fund that, in turn, abets land grabbing, but it now appears the State may not own title to mineral rights on some of its public land.

According to a September 2, 2004 online “Kaiser-Bottom-Fishing” report written by market analyst John Kaiser, the then recent weeks of excitement over uranium was drawing attention to Bitterroot’s interest in the U. P., and it’s President and Director was none too happy about it. He’s concerned about land acquisition competition and publicity that would fire up the NIMBY (not in my back yard) bunch.

Much of what follows regarding Bitterroot can be attributed to Mr. Kaiser, but it’s supported by information found elsewhere.

Bitterroot is looking for uranium in the Jacobsville Basin, which covers most of the Western U. P., including the historic Menominee Co. winter deeryard area the MI-DNR is so eager to have.

Though few know it, radioactivity has been found in some Copper Country drinking water and for that reason the Western U. P. District Health Department recommends testing well water in areas east of the Keweenaw Fault, which runs from the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula down to the Wisconsin border. This includes portions of Ontonagon, Gogebic, Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw Counties, but particularly a line north of Jacobsville in Houghton and Keweenaw County where conservancies and land trusts have been very busy controlling land.

In 1996, Bitterroot gained access to a patchwork of claims in a portion of their “targeted area” from a group that could trace its origins back to the Civil War. By the late 1960’s an access road had been built into a rugged portion of the property near the Silver River in Houghton County’s Laird Township. Land in several of the township’s contiguous sections had been subdivided into a patchwork of many 10-acre parcels and a few larger ones, and surface rights had been sold. Bitterroot refers to this patchwork as “Voyageur Lands.” (The Silver River Reserve is a part of these “Voyageur Lands” ~Cj)

Some land between the Voyageur Lands belongs to the State of Michigan and although prospecting permits can be granted for state owned land through an application process, the privately owned land presents a problem.

In his 2004 report, Kaiser claimed that Bitterroot’s president had already spent 10 years trying to sort out the land ownership situation because geophysical anomalies pay no attention to mineral title boundaries. Therefore, in order to gain access to the coveted resources, a great deal of secrecy and land acquisition cleverness is a must.

Simply put, Bitterroot targets what land it wants first and then sets about getting it without sounding an alarm, sort of like the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is now doing with their public land boundary review, and what the Conservancy is doing with their “conservation puzzle” all over the U.P.

Bitterroot has two wholly owned Michigan subsidiaries: Voyageur Land Corporation (1996) and Trans Superior Resources (1995), which purchased all Voyageur shares in 1997.

Trans Superior properties include 100% interest in mineral rights on 461 square miles of land extending from the Keweenaw Peninsula and White Pine, south to the Wisconsin border. This includes 204 square miles of Copper Range Lands and 257 square miles of Voyageur Lands.

It’s Kaiser’s contention that the Jacobsville Basin’s potential to host high grade unconformity style uranium deposits hasn’t been proven yet, but should it be, Cameco will need Bitterroot’s “land skills” to forge ahead with an aggressive land acquisition campaign. And, once that happens, the market will be beating a path to Bitterroot’s door…”

Part 1 of my article (above) ended up here. Hawaii’s Gov. Linda Lingle was expected to testify regarding her business, professional, personal and political relationships with Jennifer Granholm, among many others, including Ben Benson, listed at the link below. You can draw your own conclusions, but I smell some rather large land-grab facilitating rats in the Copper Country & Western U.P. No doubt they’ve been rewarded handsomely with pocket change and/or positions of influence.

James B. Nicholson, Trustee vs. Harmon

(Formerly Woo vs. Harmon)

CV05-00030 DAE KSC

U.S. District Court For the District of Hawaii

Judges: David A. Ezra; Kevin S. Chang

~ ~ ~

DEFENDANT’S WITNESS

GOVERNOR LINDA LINGLE

Executive Chambers, State Capitol
Honolulu, HI 96813

Fax: 808-586-0006

Governor, State of Hawaii; former Mayor, County of Maui, Hawaii; Maui County Council member in 1980’s; Chair, Hawaii Republican Party, 1999-2002; worked in Honolulu as a public information officer for the Teamsters and Hotel Workers Union; formerly married to Maui attorney, William Crockett….

http://www.the-catbird-seat.net/CV05-00030-Witness-Lingle-Linda.htm


 

December 4, 2006

Nonprofit accountability needed

Public should demand better regulation of nonprofits

By Mary M. Lassen and Anna Kristina C. Moore, Philanthropy Journal

One can hope that recent news about U.S. Rep. Bob Ney and five nonprofit organizations allegedly linked to Jack Abramoff’s illegal lobbying activities would scare others from committing the same mistakes.

But experience shows neither conscience nor self-regulation is enough to ensure that people in positions of authority will uphold principles like accountability and transparency in their dealings.

There are always people willing to take the risk when the prize is influence, money and power.

In a 2003 study, Marion Fremont-Smith and Andras Kosaras noted media reports of over 150 incidents involving criminal and civil misconduct by leaders of charitable organizations in 1995 to 2002.

And this does not even include disputes settled in and out of court or investigations that are not publicly disclosed. This weakens trust in and support of the charitable sector.

A recent CNN poll shows that 50 percent of Americans think Congress is corrupt.

The tentacles of political corruption regrettably have some nonprofit and charitable organizations in their grasp.

Ironically, we depend on these same elected officials to provide the IRS and other regulators with the resources needed to oversee tax-exempt organizations to the full extent of their mandates, irrespective of who controls Congress.

The good news is that wethe voting, tax-paying public – have the power to demand that our elected officials stop squandering the numerous opportunities to address weaknesses in our legislation.

Members of Congress should join Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa in his efforts to pass laws to eliminate exploitation of the nonprofit sector.

They can begin by mandating better disclosure for donor-advised funds and minimum payments for supporting organizations, and by cracking down on abuses by members of Congress, their families and associates.

The nonprofit and philanthropic communities will need to reinvigorate self-regulatory initiatives such as codes of standards similar to efforts by the Maryland Nonprofit Association and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

There are signs that public confidence in charities is improving, but with scandals marring the philanthropic sector – such as those involving United Way, the Nature Conservancy, the Katrina and 9/11 funds, and Abramoff — it’s still on shaky ground.

A drop in confidence that translates into a drop in donations will severely affect groups that depend on charitable dollars to provide assistance to disenfranchised populations.

Misuse and abuse of nonprofits and foundations violate the spirit of community, generosity and social responsibility that sustain philanthropy in the U.S.

Mary M. Lassen is interim executive director and Anna Kristina C. Moore is a communications associate at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in Washington, D.C.

© 2006 Philanthropy Journal. All rights reserved.


 

October 11, 2006

The Real Deal Behind
Granholm’s “U. P. Big Deal”

By C. J. Williams, www.MichNews.com

On January 6, 2005 the Yooper grapevine was abuzz with news of another State of Michigan/Nature Conservancy land grab scheme involving 271,000 acres in eight counties, an amount equivalent to 502 square miles. The parcel had been carved from 390,000 forestland acres situated in ten of the Upper Peninsula’s fifteen counties.

Described by the Conservancy as an ecological treasure trove of nature’s precious jewels and pristine landscapes, the 390,000 acres, once owned by the Bishop Estate Trust (a.k.a. Kamehameha Schools Trust), includes more than 300 lakes and 526 miles of rivers and streams. However, as Paul Harvey would say, it’s time to tell the rest of the story about Governor Granholm’s “U. P. Big Deal”, also known as the Nature Conservancy’s “Northern Great Lakes Forest Project”.

Bernice Pauahi Bishop was the great-granddaughter and last direct descendent of Hawaiian King Kamehameha I. Born to high priests, Bernice was raised by a prime minister and educated by Protestant missionaries. While in her teens, she married Charles Bishop, a 28-year old New Yorker.

After her death in 1884, Charles helped establish the Kamehameha Schools and subsequent Bishop Trust according to Bernice’s last will and testament. To do so he used her substantial land holdings and his considerable wealth.

The Bishop Trust, Hawaii’s largest private landowner once estimated to be worth $10 billion or more, still operates schools and educational programs throughout the islands. Over the past several decades, the scandal-ridden Trust has been raided through convoluted schemes that almost defy unraveling.

So how did it come to pass that a Hawaiian trust fund once owned so much of Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula? The answer lies in a purported friendship between Ben Benson and Mark McConaghy, a PricewaterhouseCoopers tax expert hired by the Bishop Estate trustees to keep the IRS off their greedy backs. But, I get ahead of myself.

Some of the 271,000 acres, now lauded as Granholm’s “U.P. Big Deal”, once belonged to the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company. By the late 1960’s, however, C & H could no longer afford to mine copper while meeting all the new environmental standards being put in place. Having to compete with China and other countries, which produce ore with cheap labor while ignoring environmental issues, and facing demands of better pay from its own striking miners in 1968, C & H closed its mines and sold its land holdings to Universal Oil Products.

A similar fate met miners who rode buses for up to an hour or more to the Copper Range mine near White Pine in Ontonagon County. An environmental lawsuit filed in 1995 by the National Wildlife Federation, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and others, plus a successful effort to agitate a band of Native Americans over environmental issues, helped end copper’s glory days there, too. But the world’s greatest source of native copper, uranium, gas, oil, and other valuable underground resources still lie waiting in the U.P. and the State of Michigan, the Conservancy, and global mining conglomerates know it.

Ben Benson, a very young New Englander, amassed some of the former C & H property in the late 1980’s, combined it with 292,000 acres purchased in 1990 from Cliff’s Forest Products (Cleveland-Cliffs), added a little bit more from here and there, and set about developing a high-tech, satellite-enhanced timbering operation, or so the tale is told.

According to Maura Singleton’s August 1999 article, “Sea Hawk”, published in the Virginia Business Magazine, 40-year-old Benson had been a dyslexic and indifferent student who dropped out of school in the ninth grade. At age 15, he stole the family car, drove from Cape Cod to Maine, and used a newly obtained credit card to buy 100 acres of rocky wilderness, which he subdivided and sold in 5-acre vacation plots.

Singleton wrote that, at age 17, Benson joined the Navy submarine corps and worked with sonar on a nuclear fast-attack sub, but his plan for a Navy career went by the wayside four years later due to allergies.

By the early 1980’s, Benson, who claimed never to have done anything for more than four years, had already run an oil company and a New Hampshire real estate development company.

He then focused attention on the state of Virginia, marrying the granddaughter of an East Shore developer, an area where the Nature Conservancy (TNC) controlled and mismanaged a great deal of land. It was here that Benson again took up work in real estate, developing exclusive coastline property.

In 1991, Benson, with title to about half-a-million U.P. acres, became involved in a partnership of sorts with the Bishop Estate Trustees through his pal, Mark McConoghy. But, in 1994 at age 35, after surviving two heart attacks within an 8-month period, he sold his U.P. land holdings to the Trust for a few million dollars and bought a 65-foot Hatteras, which he christened “Sea Hawk”.

The partnership may have dissolved, but it later caused Benson’s name to come up in Bobby Harmon’s RICO lawsuit – Civil No. 99-00304 DAE: Harmon v Federal Insurance Company, P & C Insurance Co., Inc., Marsh & McLennan, Inc., Trustees of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, et al, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.

Harmon is still immersed in litigation regarding his claims of fraud, tax evasion, racketeering and other wrongful acts involving the Bishop Land Trust. His lengthy witness list, which he adds to almost daily, includes newly appointed U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson who is a former Goldman Sachs CEO. Paulson was also a Board member of the Nature Conservancy and served as co-chairman of its Asia Pacific Council. At one time, the scandal-ridden Bishop Trust owned a great deal of Goldman Sachs stock.

When Benson was featured in the “Sea Hawk” article, he was searching for millions of dollars worth of lost treasure off Virginia’s coast and dueling with Spain for the right to do so. He’s since sold that venture, Sea Hawk, Inc., to wheeler and dealer Peter Knollenberg.

Considering that Benson had been a dyslexic, fifteen-year-old credit card-owning high school dropout and run-away, his estimated fortune, said to be around $110 million several years ago, isn’t too shabby.

After Benson sold his U.P. holdings to the Bishop Trust, Benson Forest Products became known as Munising based Shelter Bay Forests, which managed the trust’s U.P. land holdings with “gentle timbering” technology until the forestland was put up for bids in the fall of 2002.

Although Governor Engler, the Conservancy, and an “undisclosed timber company” formed a “private-public” partnership to bid on the Bishop Trust land, they lost out to Forestland Group LLC, which closed on their deal during the summer of 2003.

Founded in 1995, Forestland Group is a North Carolina based forest investment management organization (TIMO) that purchases property through its various Heartwood Forestland Funds. As of April 2005, Forestland Group owned 560,000 Upper Peninsula acres; 78,110 acres in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties bought from Mead in 1998, 91,117 acres in Iron, Ontonagon, Houghton and Baraga Counties bought from Ned Lake Timber and Land Company in 2001, and the remainder being the former Bishop Trust holdings of 389,202 acres bought in the summer of 2003.

Within a few months of closing on the Bishop Trust deal, Forestland Group offered its prize to the State of Michigan, and by January 2004 the Michigan Chapter of the Nature Conservancy had already secured at least one grant toward the purchase. That’s not surprising, however, considering that a January ‘05 news article written by George Gallagher for the Council of Michigan Foundations lauds several foundations that had taken an active role to help TNC’s Michigan chapter in their then four-year public/private partnership initiative to get their biscuit hooks on the Upper Peninsula Bishop Trust timberland.

Upon learning in 2002 that the public/private partnership lost the bid, Phil Powers, then chairman of the MI-Nature Conservancy, said Forestland Group could fit in with the Conservancy’s goals. “Our sense is they’ve got a first-class track record of putting in place solutions like the ones we’re working on. We in the Nature Conservancy are looking forward to working out a partnership with them,” said Powers.

Tina Hall, the U.P. director of the MI-Nature Conservancy, said the idea of securing recreational access easements to portions of the property was not dead. “…We know the Forestland Group so well, we feel we can work with them,” said Hall.

As the story behind the “U.P. Big Deal” unfolded, it was claimed that key players met at Governor Granholm’s office in November 2003. And, though she had to put the parties in separate rooms when negotiations broke down and shuffle back and forth with offers and counter-offers until she got them to make a deal, an agreement was finally made between the two who’ve been bed partners for years – the State of Michigan and the Nature Conservancy – in tandem with Forestland Group LLC, whose President and CEO is none other than Thomas Massengale, a former Nature Conservancy senior executive and founder of it’s North Carolina Chapter.

Of the 390,000 Bishop Trust acres for which Forestland Group outbid the State, the Nature Conservancy, and their “unnamed” timber company partner, the Conservancy, with multi-billion dollars in tax-exempt assets, will own fee interest (includes mineral rights) in 23,338 acres in the Big Two Hearted River watershed and will manage the State’s conservation easement on 248,000 acres still owned by Forestland Group.

A campaign to fund Granholm’s “U.P. Big Deal” land grab for the Conservancy’s $57.9 million “Northern Great Lakes Forest Project” got underway without anyone asking state citizens if they approved of her Big Deal or not.

Pretty slick, eh!

Copyright by C. J. Williams

Related:

http://www.michigan.gov/gov/0,1607,7-168-23442
_21974-107788–M_2005_1,00.html

http://www.the-catbird-seat.net/GUIDE

http://lists.asu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=
ind9807&L=sub-arch&T=0&P=1381

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/nation/specials/natureconservancy/

http://www.virginiabusiness.com/magazine/yr1999
/aug99/itsup/cover.html

http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/
states/michigan/preserves/art17158.html

http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica
/states/michigan/misc/art14792.html

http://www.mass.gov/obcbbo/bd93-042-2.htm

~ ~ ~

www.michnews.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/318/14384/printer


 

July 12, 2006

Is Bush turning green?

By Joyce Morrison, www.freedom.org

The selection of Henry Paulson to be the new Secretary of Treasury should be a red flag to those who believe in the protection of property rights. Has President Bush been listening to the wrong people or is he making recent debatable decisions on his own?

The appointment of former Idaho governor, Dirk Kempthorne, to serve as Interior Secretary left many wondering why Bush chose this man whose philosophy of public lands is not a balanced approach. The Liberty Matters organization quoted Kempthorne as saying, “When there is a conflict between conserving resources unimpaired for future generations and the use of those resources, conservation will be predominant.”

John H. Sununu, former Chief of Staff for George Bush, Sr. and former governor of New Hampshire, when asked about the philosophy of our current President Bush very carefully stated, “he has been badly served by a staff who did not live up to their resumes. The issues faced today are hard issues and men are asked to deal with issues they know nothing about.”

Sununu continued, “We have large energy reserves but we did not get a long term energy policy in the 2005 energy bill.”

Just speculation, but could Bush be thinking that to “cut a deal” with environmentalists by appointing Paulson to a cabinet position bring a compromise to the long term planning of energy? If a deal was made, let’s hope it was worth it.

Paulson openly promotes the theory of global warming and the Kyoto Treaty contrary to the stand taken by President Bush that the treaty would wreck our economy. He is also an extreme environmentalist which differs from the common sense President Bush has taken on a balanced approach to caring for the environment.

Those who have studied environmentalism can attest to the fact that it is not about “saving the environment,” but is a high dollar game and a method to “control” the land. If a depression should hit this nation, we would see how important the “environment” would be to these environmental leaders.

Henry Paulson spent 32 years at the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs and was currently CEO. He also served as the president of The Nature Conservancy. He was approved by the Senate Finance Committee to be our next Treasury Secretary. He was confirmed by the full Senate with no questions asked.

This multi-millionaire is as green as the money he will be dealing with. The extreme environmental groups and liberals are shouting with joy while conservatives are trying to figure out why conservative senators did not try to block this appointment.

Instead, a new regulation was written by the IRS, which Paulson will head, that he could sell his extensive Goldman Sachs stock holdings without incurring a tax penalty.

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club told the Associated Press, “It isn’t every day that the Sierra Club finds itself welcoming a nomination to George W. Bush’s Cabinet with ultra-conservatives decrying the move,”

Nature Conservancy’s CEO, Steve McCormick, said Paulson’s “mark on the conservancy is indelible. He has helped us think big — very big — about our conservation ambitions.”

The Ledger.com reported the above quotes as well as an interview this year with Muckraker, the website for the Center for Investigative Reporting. Paulson told them environmental health and financial well-being go hand in hand: “The environment and the economy have been totally misconstrued as incompatible. They are opposite sides of the same coin — you can’t consider one without the other.”

The Novak column in the Chicago Sun Times reported:

Bush administration officials are delighted to hear that Wendy Paulson, the liberal Democratic wife of Treasury Secretary-designate Henry Paulson, intends to remain in their upper West Side luxury apartment in Manhattan without moving to Washington.

Since 1997, Wendy Paulson has contributed $32,800 to Democrats, compared with $10,500 to Republicans ($1,000 to Sen. John McCain for his 2000 presidential run and the rest to liberal Republicans). Her contributions include $6,000 to Sen. Hillary Clinton and $5,000 to HILLPAC (Clinton’s political action committee).

Republicans fear that if Mrs. Paulson is much in evidence at events in the capital, she would be subject to questions from reporters that might result in embarrassing answers.

Paulson will be closely watched to see if he plays favors by giving special tax treatment to The Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups. These organizations have repeatedly pushed for special tax breaks.

Liberty Matters reports:

Paulson is extremely weak on property rights…He has basically used corporate assets to pursue his personal interests,” said Steven Milloy, Free Enterprise Action Fund portfolio manager. Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel wrote: “…given [Paulson’s] record in using Goldman’s power and money toward environmental ends, he just might use his clout to push the administration toward dealing with climate change or even…considering an energy tax.” But his role as Chairman of The Nature Conservancy, which an in-depth investigative report by the Washington Post revealed has a history of questionable deals, should have raised the concern of at least one Senator. But then, Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington anymore.

The Nature Conservancy has become “partnered” with almost every government agency and receives huge amounts of money in the form of grants and agreements. The Washington Post did a series on TNC and exposed many of their dealings which questioned their integrity. They were investigated by a Senate panel and yet they have more control of the government than elected officials and now it appears they will receive cabinet status by way of the Treasury Department.

Paulson has reportedly made 70 trips to China in recent years and earned millions for Goldman Sachs from financial dealings “directly with the Peoples Republic of China and its state industries such as the Bank of China.” Guess who is one of the major holders of the United States debt? You guessed it…..China.

Analysts report that Japan and China hold much of the United States debt which runs into billions of dollars. In the real world, whoever holds someone’s debt requires collateral. The U.S. no longer uses gold or silver as a standard, so what would the United States have to use as collateral for this purchased debt?

The Nature Conservancy, which has about $4 billion in assets, has been called the real estate agent for the U.S. government as it buys land and then sells it back to the government. The U.S. government owns approximately 30% of the land in the U.S. not including property owned by state and local governments and environmental organizations. Much of the land owned by the U.S. and conservation groups contains valuable resources.

We certainly would hope the day never comes when our land and resources would be used as collateral for our nation’s debt.

Paulson’s wife has reportedly contributed $410,000 to the League of Conservation Voters. This is the organization that supported Kerry for President. Each year they select the “dirty dozen” legislators who do not play their game and spend big dollars trying to defeat them. Big money passes through this organization and they boast their power.

According to the League of Conservation Voters, they have unveiled the next seven members of their 2006 “Dirty Dozen.” Included in this group, which LCV is calling the “Oil Slick Seven,” are Senators Rick Santorum (PA), Conrad Burns (MT), and Jim Talent (MO) and Representatives Richard Pombo (CA), Katherine Harris (FL), Heather Wilson (NM), and Bob Ney (OH). LCV is currently or will be in the near future actively campaigning to defeat all of these Members of Congress in the 2006 elections.

According to Nature Conservancy’s CEO, Steve McCormick, under Paulson’s tenure, The Nature Conservancy made significant gains in global conservation and in strengthening governance and accountability. As Chairman, he played key roles helping define the organization’s global conservation vision, expand into new geographies and enhance the organization’s partnerships with the private and public sectors.

The White House News states that “the Secretary of the Treasury has one of the most important jobs in the federal government. The Treasury Secretary is responsible for recommending and implementing policies dealing with taxes, financial markets, federal spending, trade and other issues affecting the health and competitiveness of the American economy. The Treasury Secretary oversees the minting of U.S. currency, the management of public finances, and the enforcement of important laws, including our efforts to crack down on terrorist financing. The Treasury Secretary is the leading force on my economic team and the chief spokesman for my economic policies.”

Add this little twist to the plot that Robert Zoellick, who served in the number two position in the State Department will now take over the spot at Goldman Sachs vacated by Paulson.

www.freedom.org/news/200607/12/morrison.phtml


 

October 1, 2006

U.S. to Cut Guatemala’s Debt
for Not Cutting Trees

By MARC LACEY, New York Times

MEXICO CITY — The United States government has joined with two environmental groups in a debt-for-nature swap, which will forgive about 20 percent of Guatemala’s $108 million in foreign debt to Washington in an effort to help threatened tropical forests there, American and conservation officials said late last week.

In a deal to be announced Monday in Guatemala City, the government of Guatemala has agreed, in exchange for the debt forgiveness, to invest $24.4 million over the next 15 years in conservation work in four nature regions.

This is the largest amount of debt that has been forgiven by the United States under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, which was enacted in 1998. So far, 10 countries, from the Philippines to Peru, have had part of their debt forgiven in exchange for forest protection efforts.

“You can’t just come in as the U.S. and say it’s important to protect those forests,” Claudia A. McMurray, assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science, said in an interview. “You have to give these countries alternatives.”

In the latest deal, the United States government contributed about $15 million toward the cancellation of Guatemala’s debt, said Clay Lowery, assistant secretary of the Treasury for international affairs. The groups Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy each contributed an additional $1 million. Those funds, and the interest they will generate, will be enough to erase more than $20 million in debt and interest, officials said.

“This is a huge deal for Guatemala,” John Beavers, who helped to negotiate the deal for the Nature Conservancy, said in a telephone interview from Guatemala City. “We hope it helps to drive the conservation area in Guatemala.”

The country has struggled in recent years to control illegal logging and drug trafficking in its natural areas. Soldiers are deployed in some areas to stem the destruction.

There is also a legal threat to Guatemala’s parks. A business confederation has filed a suit contending that the law establishing the protected areas is unconstitutional, because it did not receive a two-thirds majority when the legislature approved it almost 20 years ago.

The bulk of the money generated by the debt forgiveness will go to private organizations working to preserve the country’s nature areas. A $4.9 million conservation trust fund will also be set up to generate interest income for future grants.

The money will be spent in four of Guatemala’s premier reserves, which include tropical and subtropical forests and coastal mangrove areas. The areas are home to many rare and endangered species.

“The areas protected in this agreement lie in the heart of Mayan civilization, and they are home to jaguars, scarlet macaws, harpy eagles and countless other species,” Steven J. McCormick, president of the Nature Conservancy, said in a statement.

The protected areas are the Cuchumatanes region, the Maya Biosphere Reserve, the Motagua/Polochic System and the Western Highlands volcanic chain.

To qualify for the program, Guatemala had to meet a series of political and economic criteria. Eligible countries must have democratically elected governments and a suitable economic reform program in place, and they must cooperate with the United States on drug enforcement and counterterrorism efforts.

An agreement under the program with Belize set aside 23,000 acres of new forest preserves and has helped to manage an additional 270,000 acres. One of two deals in Panama helped preserve the Chagres River Basin, which is a major source of water for the Panama Canal.


 

July 6, 2006

Nature Conservancy Announces
New Board Chairman

John Morgridge Takes Over for Henry M. Paulson, Who
Last Week Was Confirmed As U.S. Treasury Secretary

ARLINGTON, VA — Today, The Nature Conservancy announced that John Morgridge, former President and CEO of Cisco Systems, Inc., will become the global conservation organization’s new Board of Directors chairman, effective immediately.

A member of the Conservancy’s Board since 1998, Morgridge succeeds Henry M. Paulson, who stepped down as Board chairman following last week’s Senate vote confirming him as the new U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

Like his predecessor Hank Paulson, John is a tireless advocate for conservation in the business arena and beyond,” said Steve McCormick, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “John’s passion for the Conservancy’s mission and his constant drive for the organization to do more and work smarter will serve him well in this important role.”

Morgridge joined Cisco Systems, a worldwide internet networking company, in 1988 as President and CEO, growing the company from $5 million to more than $1 billion in sales.

In 1990 he took Cisco public, and in 1995 he became Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors. In that role, he continues to champion a range of philanthropic and corporate citizenship initiatives on behalf of the company, such as the importance of addressing basic human needs and providing better access to education around the world.

Morgridge also is deeply involved with Stanford University, where he serves as a trustee, teaches at its Graduate School of Business and serves on the business school’s Advisory Council.

Morgridge also serves on the boards of CARE, Interplast and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

www.nature.org/pressroom/press/press2510.html


 

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UNDUE INFLUENCE

By Ron Arnold

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY. The most controversial environmental group that claims to be “non-controversial.”…

TNC was involved in a lobbying scam using front groups to stop a dam project; threatened to have the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service take a landowner’s property if he refused to sell to The Nature Conservancy; used undue influence to get property from an elderly victim and lost the court case brought by the proper heirs; and continues to sell private land to the government despite the wishes of those who sold it to the Nature Conservancy.

TNC receives millions in government funds and uses tax money to forward its own agenda of nationalizing private land at a profit.

Although The Nature Conservancy claims to be a land preservation group, it pays Michael J. Coda a salary of $154,082 (and benefits of $17,652) as Director of their Climate Change Program, getting into the highly contentious global warming controversy.

To keep their media spin on being “non-controversial”, The Nature Conservancy paid $1,251,150 to Media Strategies and Research Company for consulting services….

The Nature Conservancy is by far the richest environmental group in terms of assets and income stream, with 2000 total revenues of $784,263,611 and assets of $2,805,512,687.

TNC, as it likes to abbreviate itself, also has a squeaky clean reputation for being “science driven, non-confrontational and businesslike,” in the words of Daniel R. Efroymson, former Chair of TNC’s Board of Governors.

It calls itself “Nature’s real estate agent.”

TNC operates the world’s largest private nature preserve system, 1,340 preserves under Conservancy management consisting of 1,177,000 acres the Conservancy owns or has under conservation easement. TNC’s membership stands at 900,000. It has protected 10.5 million acres in the U.S. since its incorporation in 1953.

Millions of people reading upscale magazines have seen TNC’s wonderful print ad picturing an eagle soaring above a majestic landscape with the great cutline, “We have friends in high places.”

Certainly such a popular and non-controversial organization can’t be grant driven, can it?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, in the sense that in 1996 it received a whopping $203,886,056, or “60 percent of its annual revenue from grants awarded by foundations, businesses, and individuals.”

No, in the sense that The Nature Conservancy itself gives so many grants “to partner organizations” and has so many foundation and corporate moguls on its Board of Governors that it constitutes a consolidated power center rivaling even the archetypal Environmental Grantmakers Association.

It is difficult for the ordinary person to grasp the power, wealth, and connections controlled by the Nature Conservancy elite. The thirty-two members of TNC’s Board of Governors, plus its president and chief executive officer, include at least seven foundation officers and at least nine corporate officers, current or former. Retired or former corporate and foundation officials do not entirely lose their influence, and in fact may gain through board positions such as the popular Nature Conservancy. The public policy influenced by this small group of people touches millions of lives every day, but few are aware.

The late John C. Sawhill was president and chief executive officer of The Nature Conservancy ($203,723 salary, 1998) and was a walking influence center by himself. He was president emeritus of New York University, chair of the H. John Heinz, III, Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, and chair of the Electric Power Research Institute Advisory Council. He was a member of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development and the Commission on the Future of the Smithsonian Institution, a board member of Environment for the Americas, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He was a former partner of McKinsey & Company, Inc. and a former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy.

Sawhill’s unpaid position with the Heinz Center indicated that he was one of Teresa Heinz’s favorite people. It was her $20 million grant that created the Center, recall. And she gives generously to TNC.

TNC has 274 employees and officers who are paid over $50,000 a year each. In 1996, TNC paid 50 firms or individuals over $50,000 for consulting, fundraising, legal counsel and other professional services. TNC paid out $15,792,253 in grants to partner organizations.

TNC is not only Nature’s real estate agent, it’s not doing bad as Nature’s securities investor, either: in 2000 it received $171,764,755 from its securities investment portfolio. What exactly all this securities trading has to do with saving nature is open to question, since TNC’s securities investment portfolio is standard rich folks stuff with a lot of common and preferred stock in “capitalist, polluting, toxic, desecrating, bad-nasty corporations,” mixed with mutual funds, bonds and U.S. government obligations totaling $1,051,959,170 in 2000. That doesn’t count other investments worth $165,202,224.

Then there’s the real estate. TNC say it owns or has under conservation easement 1,177,000 acres in its private preserve system. Good. TNC also says it has protected 10.5 million acres in the United States. Good. If they own only 1.17 million of that 10.5 million, what happened to the other 9.3 million acres?

They sold a lot of it to the government.

Whoa.

The Nature Conservancy bought private land from private owners who thought it would remain in private hands and sold it to the government?

Yep.

Isn’t that illegal?

Nope.

The government asks them to do it some of the time.

A letter from the Deputy Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to the Nature Conservancy dated August 30, 1985, reveals a long-standing government agreement for TNC to buy private land: “We are appreciative of The Nature Conservancy’s continuing effort to assist the Service in the acquisition of lands for the Connecticut Coastal National Wildlife Refuge.”

In this and numerous other letters, the government clearly agrees to pay TNC “in excess of the approved appraisal value.”

Similar agreements for the federal government to buy TNC property at top-dollar prices exist all over the nation.

One federal officer who conducted such excess-cost purchases, Robert Miller, a chief of the realty division of the USFWS, was later hired by TNC at a high salary.

The Nature Conservancy is a conduit for the nationalization of private property. Nearly ten million acres so far.

Is it still going on?

According to the most recent figures available, in 1996 TNC received $37,853,205, or 11% of its total income, from sale of private land to federal, state, and local governments for use as parks, recreational areas, and nature preserves. Such land goes off the local tax rolls.

On top of that, The Nature Conservancy gets government grants and contracts worth millions each year. Green welfare. In 1996 they got $33,297,707, or 10% of their total income, from government contracts.

So Nature’s real estate agent, which asks you to join up for 25, 35 or 50 bucks, was already in your taxpaying pockets to the tune of $71,150,912 in 1996.

TNC is a public charity, according to the IRS. Why doesn’t TNC give the land to the government? What, and miss 37 million bucks?

Maybe TNC is a little greedy, and maybe not very “science driven,” but those quiet land deals are more or less “non-confrontational and businesslike,” as board member Efroymson claimed. Two out of three’s not bad….

Such clashes led to a 1994 General Accounting Office report titled, “Land Acquisitions Involving Nonprofit Conservation Organizations.” It had been requested by Congress in the wake of a May 1992 Interior Department Inspector General Report on problems with these types of acquisitions, including undue benefits in financial gains.

The GAO tried to determine the actual profits made by nonprofit groups selling private land to the federal government, but could not. Two groups, the Trust for Public Land and the River Network refused to provide Congress with their financial information “because of contractual obligations concerning confidentiality.” Others used bookkeeping methods that made each transaction look like a loss (compared to an imaginary “market value” on land for which there was no market).

The Nature Conservancy was found to have sold one property to the Forest Service for over $1 million that had been donated to it. The profit on this parcel, after expenses, was calculated at $877,000.

Stung, The Nature Conservancy responded to this controversy by declaring that it would in the future donate lands to the government that had been donated to it, but said this would “pressure them into fund raising.”

Overall, TNC said its bookkeeping methods showed it took a net loss on the private property it sold to the federal government. TNC did not calculate the loss to county and school district tax rolls as part of the social costs of its transactions.

Maybe TNC is not very “science driven” and “non-confrontational” when it comes to land and money, but they’re certainly “businesslike,” as board member Efroymson claimed. One out of three’s not totally bad….

Okay, so TNC has its hand in the taxpayer’s till and plays hardball in court and claims to have government bully boys backing up threats to condemn some property. But they wouldn’t violate that “businesslike” ethic of theirs by playing dirty politics in lobbying, would they?…

In fiscal year 1996, TNC spent $419,729 on lobbying. In 1997-98 TNC spent $993,396 on lobbying. TNC spent $3,191,930 on lobbying in 2000.

Perhaps The Nature Conservancy will open their current handbooks to public inspection so we can see what dirty tricks they might or might not be playing these days…..

Robert H. Nelson, a professor of environmental policy at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has a more Machiavellian take on corporate giving to the environmental movement: It is a way for strong corporations to obtain government regulations so expensive they will price weaker competitors out of business. The result is a legal monopoly in a high-cost market.

Bob Nelson first explained his theory to me while I was interviewing him in 1981 for a book I was working on. He was then a policy analyst at the Department of the Interior, working in the Office of Policy Analysis, which serves the Office of the Secretary….

The implications of Nelson’s theory are disturbing. Is there collusion to influence public policy between corporate or trade association leaders and environmental group leaders that are not the strictly arm’s-length relationships of adversaries?

Is the adversary process of lobbying environmental policy being compromised by “sweetheart deals” between the most powerful on both sides, corporations and environmental groups?

Serious questions for future public policy….

www.undueinfluence.com/nature_conservancy.htm


 

May 30, 2006

Ethics Group Criticizes Henry Paulson
Nomination for Treasury

Cites Nature Conservancy Conflict of Interest
and Fannie Mae Fraud

WASHINGTON, U.S. Newswire — Peter Flaherty, resident of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), criticized the expected nomination today of Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson as Treasury Secretary. NLPC was the sponsor of a shareholder proposal at the Goldman Sachs annual meeting on March 31. The proposal, which generated significant media attention, asked for a report on Paulson’s apparent conflict of interest in chairing both Goldman and the Nature Conservancy.

In November 2005, Goldman Sachs adopted an “Environmental Policy” that closely parallels the Nature Conservancy agenda on key issues like global warming. Moreover, Paulson’s son Merritt is a trustee of a Nature Conservancy-related group that was the recipient of a Goldman Sachs donation in the form of a tract of land totaling 680,000 acres in Chile.

In his remarks at the annual meeting, Flaherty also noted that the Nature Conservancy has been mired in scandal in recent years, as detailed in a Washington Post series and in Senate hearings. The group sold ecologically sensitive land at a discount to its own trustees on which they built multi-million-dollar vacation homes, and structured land donations so wealthy donors could improperly receive tax breaks.

Goldman’s defense, delivered at the meeting by John H. Bryan, chairman of the Goldman Governance Committee, was essentially that the Goldman board reviewed the environmental policy and the Chilean land deal and approved them. Bryan specifically denied that the Nature Conservancy was involved at all in the land deal. According to the Nature Conservancy tax return, however, it was paid a consulting fee of $144,000 by Goldman for assistance on the land deal.

In an April 4 opinion article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Green-Nosing,” business writer Judith Dobrzynski wrote, “It’s ludicrous to suggest that Goldman’s board acted alone, as if directors didn’t know of Mr. Paulson’s involvement with the conservancy or his advocacy of environmental causes.”

Flaherty said, “There remain unanswered questions about Paulson’s personal and business ethics. At Goldman Sachs, Paulson promoted his own personal interests at the expense of shareholders. As Treasury Secretary, will he promote the public interest, or his own?”

Flaherty also cited Goldman Sachs’ role in the Fannie Mae scandal. According to last week’s report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), Fannie Mae managers engaged in a series of questionable transactions, including two with Goldman Sachs, which improperly pushed $107 million of Fannie Mae earnings into future years. The goal was to rig the company’s books to make it appear that the company had reached earnings targets triggering the maximum possible payout for executives including Franklin Raines.

Steve Milloy of Action Fund Management, LLC, an investment adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund (http://www.freeenterpriseactionfund.com), who also raised questions at the Goldman Sachs annual meeting, reacted to the nomination by saying, “Paulson was CEO of Goldman when the fraudulent Fannie Mae transactions occurred. With all the corporate scandals, is Paulson the right person to now head Treasury?”

——

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) promotes ethics in public life.

http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=66596


 

March 29, 2006

Nature Conservancy, Conservation International Pledge Six Million Dollars to Protect Pacific Islands

Supports Governments in Efforts to Protect almost
200,000 Square Kilometers across Micronesia

The Nature Conservancy

Curitiba, Brazil— The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International committed US$6 million towards conservation across Micronesia, a region in the Pacific Ocean stretching from Hawaii to the Philippines.

The pledge was a direct response to commitments by six Micronesian nations and territories to protect a total combined marine and terrestrial area of almost 200,000 square kilometers, twice the size of Portugal.

The financial support by two of the world’s leading conservation organizations will help these islands establish protected areas across this region of incredibly diverse tropical marine life and highly endangered terrestrial biodiversity.

The US$6 million pledge is designed to generate matching funds from other financing sources including donor countries, the Global Environment Facility or regional finance mechanisms like the Asian Development Bank. The match, when fulfilled, will result in a total of US$18 million directed to protected areas and conservation across Micronesia.

“Our pledge is inspired by the leadership shown by Micronesian islands in committing to the establishment of protected areas,” said Steve McCormick, President of The Nature Conservancy, referring to the Micronesia Challenge to protect 30 percent of near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources on their islands by 2020.

“We now challenge others – governments, funders, communities and NGOs – to join this rising tide and support these islands as they strive to protect the natural resources on which they depend. We encourage other nations to make similar commitments and when they do The Nature Conservancy will be there to help.

“We are delighted by this commitment made by the governments of this region, which is part of the globally very important Polynesia-Micronesia biodiversity hotspot” said CI President Russell A. Mittermeier.

“We hope that the leadership shown by President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. and his fellow heads-of-state will inspire further action to conserve biodiversity, such as the Republic of Kiribatis decision to protect the incredible Phoenix Islands, one of the largest and most pristine reef systems on Earth. We must work together to prevent invasive species from destroying endangered biodiversity in this part of the world.”

President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. of Palau hosted the ministerial-level dinner and commended both organizations on their efforts: “The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International are demonstrating the kind of partnership and catalytic action that we hoped our actions would create,” he said.

“These kinds of pledges from the international community, coupled with tangible community, state and national commitments to conservation, are critical ingredients to achieving our national and global protected area goals.”

The Micronesia Challenge includes Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The ministerial event of island leaders and supporters was part of the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which is addressing island biodiversity.

The CBD is expected to adopt a Program of Work that will lay out guidance for island nations and nations with islands for integrated conservation and management of their vital natural resources.

www.nature.org/wherewework/islands/press/press2344.html

For more, GO TO > > > Pilikea in Palau


 

March 20, 2006

NLPC Shareholder Proposal Asks Goldman Sachs
to Investigate CEO Henry Paulson Conflict-of-Interest

Ethics Group Cites “Tangled” Relationship With
Scandal-Plagued Nature Conservancy

www.nlpc.org

Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today described an apparent conflict-of-interest involving Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Henry Paulson and his relationship with the Nature Conservancy.

Paulson is Chairman of both Goldman Sachs and the Nature Conservancy. His wife is a former board member of the Nature Conservancy.

At issue is the adoption in November 2005 by Goldman Sachs of an “Environmental Policy,” which parallels the Nature Conservancy agenda. It includes several controversial positions related to global warming, logging, and the rights of indigenous peoples in the developing world.

Additionally, Goldman Sachs transferred its ownership of a gargantuan tract of 680,000 acres in Chile to a Chilean group connected to the Nature Conservancy, called the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Paulson’s son, Merritt Paulson, is a WCS’ Trustee….

NLPC has filed a shareholder proposal for consideration at the Goldman Sachs annual meeting on March 31 in New York City that asks the Board to determine whether Paulson has violated the company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. The resolution is noted on page 42 of Goldman Sachs’ proxy. For a full text, go to www.nlpc.org.

Flaherty commented, “The days are long gone when executives of public companies can commingle their own personal interests with those of the company. Just look at the Enron and Fannie Mae scandals that involved charitable contributions being directed to directors’ pet projects. We want Paulson to explain both the substance and appearance of Goldman’s unusually tangled relationship with the Nature Conservancy, a group that is just coming off a string of scandals.”

Beginning in 2003, a variety of abuses by the Nature Conservancy were exposed through a Washington Post series and Senate committee hearings chaired by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). A mong the Nature Conservancy’s questionable practices were:

Selling ecologically sensitive land at a discount to its own directors on which they built multi-million dollar homes.

Buying land from corporations whose executives also served as Nature Conservancy directors.

Making land deals that coincided with charitable contributions to the Conservancy from wealthy buyers, who then benefited from significant tax breaks.

NLPC supports ethics in public life, and sponsors the Corporate Integrity Project. In 2003, NLPC exposed the Boeing Tanker Deal Scandal that resulted in the resignation of Boeing CEO Phil Condit, and prison terms for two other Boeing executives.

http://www.nlpc.org/view.asp?action=viewArticle&aid=1305

 


 

February 23, 2006

LAYING CLAIM TO NATURE’S TREASURE CHEST

By Carole “CJ” Williams, NewsWithViews.com

On January 6, 2005 the Upper Peninsula of Michigan grapevine was abuzz with news of yet another land control scheme covering 271,000 acres in eight counties, an amount equivalent to 502 square miles, carved from a larger parcel of 390,000 acres within ten of the U.P.’s fifteen counties.

Described as an ecological treasure trove of nature’s precious jewels and pristine landscapes, the emerald green forestland includes more than 300 sapphire blue lakes and 526 miles of rivers and streams that reflect the sun’s rays like sparkling diamonds.

Still precious and pristine after a couple centuries of TLC from indigenous Tribal members, Yooper settlers, and their offspring who’ve watched countless sunsets as breath taking as the brilliant colors in a magnificent fire opal, we’re now told that everything in God’s Country must be put under the watchful vulture eye of invasive environmentalists spewing forth eco-garbage wherever they go.

Much of the 271,000 acres, now lauded as Governor Granholm and the Nature Conservancy’s “U.P. Big Deal,” once belonged to the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company. C & H had been the employer for countless Yooper families who spent their money locally, supporting even more families in a trickle down effect that spread for miles and miles around.

By the late 1960’s, however, C & H could no longer afford to extract copper while meeting all the new environmental standards being put in place. Having to compete with China and other countries, which produce ore with cheap labor and disregard for the environment, and facing demands of better pay from its own striking miners in 1968, C & H closed its mines and sold its land holdings to Universal Oil Products.

Universal Oil then established the Lake Superior Land Company to manage its U.P. land holdings in an environmentally friendly way, while still allowing for slow but planned development. One such endeavor is a new ski hill and resort “service” area at Mt. Bohemia near picturesque Lac LaBelle in economically depressed Keweenaw County. Under all lays a number of untapped copper sulfides waiting for new mining technology….

Lake Superior Land Company was eventually taken over by International Paper, which is now marketing 450,000 Upper Peninsula acres. But, somewhere along the line, a very young New Englander by the name of Ben Benson amassed some of that former C & H property, combined it with 292,000 acres purchased in 1990 from Cliff’s Forest Products (Cleveland-Cliffs), added a little bit more from here and there, and set about developing a high-tech timbering operation in the U.P., or so the tale is told.

According to information found under the heading “Sea Hawk” in an August 1999 issue of Virginia Business Magazine, 40-year-old Benson had been a dyslexic and indifferent student who dropped out of school in the ninth grade. Stealing the family car at age 15, he drove from Cape Cod to Maine and used a credit card to buy 100 acres of rocky wilderness, which he subdivided and sold in 5-acre vacation plots.

The author of the magazine article, Maura Singleton, wrote that at age 17, Benson joined the Navy submarine corps, working with sonar on a fast-attack sub, but his plan for a Navy career went by the wayside four years later. By the early 1980’s, Ben Benson, who claimed he never did anything for more than four years, had run an oil company, as well as a New Hampshire real estate development company.

He then focused attention on the state of Virginia, marrying the granddaughter of an East Shore developer, an area where the Nature Conservancy controlled and mismanaged a great deal of land. It was here that Benson once again took up work in real estate, developing oceanfront and other exclusive property along the coastline.

In 1991, Benson, with title to about half-a-million U.P. acres, became involved in a partnership of sorts with the Kamehameha Schools Trust of Hawaii. But, in 1994, after surviving two stress-related heart attacks within an 8-month period at age 35, he sold his Michigan land holdings to the Trust for mega-millions and bought a 65-foot Hatteras, which he christened “Sea Hawk.”

The partnership may have dissolved, but it later caused his name to come up in a RICO lawsuit – Civil No. 99-00304 DAE: Harmon v Federal Insurance Company, P & C Insurance Co., Inc., Marsh & McLennan, Inc., Trustees of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, et al, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii….

After Benson took his Hawaiian “timbering” partner’s money and boogied, Benson Forests became known as Munising based Shelter Bay Forests. Shelter Bay managed the Kamehmeha Schools U.P. holdings with “gentle timbering” technology until the forestland was put up for bids in the fall of 2002 and subsequently sold.

Though Governor Engler, the Nature Conservancy, and an “undisclosed timber company” formed a “private-public” partnership to bid on it, they lost out to Forestland Group LLC, which closed on the deal during the summer of 2003.

Forestland Group, an investment management outfit, soon offered its prize to the State of Michigan, and by January 2004 the Conservancy’s Michigan Chapter had secured at least one grant from the Charles Mott Foundation toward the purchase.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, chaired by Sam Washington, CEO of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, also financially committed the State to the deal being offered, and a campaign to fund the Conservancy’s $57.9 million U.P. “Northern Great Lakes Forest Project” got underway without even asking, “Mother, may we.” Even the Yoopers’ U.S. Representative Bart Stupak got in the act, announcing his intention to find federal money to help the Conservancy’s project along.

As the story behind the Northern Great Lakes Forest Scam unfolded, it was claimed that key players met at Governor Jennifer Granholm’s office in November 2003. And, though she had to put the two sides in separate rooms and shuffle back and forth in her power suit until they outlined an amicable deal, an agreement was made between the two who’d been bed partners for years…the State of Michigan and the Nature Conservancy… in tandem with Forestland Group LLC, whose President and CEO is none other than Thomas Massengale, a former Nature Conservancy senior executive.

To date, of the original 390,000 Kamehameha Schools Trust acres for which Forestland outbid the State and its partners, the Conservancy will own 23,338 acres in the Big Two Hearted River watershed, Forestland will retain 248,000 acres, and the State will lay claim to development rights on the 248,000 Forestland still owns, even if they turn around and sell to another party.

Pretty slick, eh!

If you’re wondering what happened to the other 18,662 Kamehameha acres Forest Land bid on, none have said, nor has anyone disclosed what happened to the remainder of Benson’s estimated half million-acre Benson Forest Products grubstake, but some it is now a buffer zone for the Pictured Rocks National Park near Munising.

Announcing her 2005 Christmas present to Michiganders, and perhaps hoping to instill national “Mitten Envy,” Governor Granholm, with twinkling jewels in her eyes, gushed, “Michigan is literally defined by its environmental treasures. Thanks to the vision of this project, in 100 years the Upper Peninsula’s majestic trees and breathtaking shorelines…will still be a reality, not just a memory.”

Chiming in like a well preened parrot on a perch was Helen Taylor, the Conservancy’s state director, who squawked, “From an ecological standpoint, the plan is important because it helps link more than 2.5 million acres of protected (a.k.a. controlled) forest and natural area, including federal and state land. It fills in missing pieces of the conservation puzzle” at a time of rising concern about land fragmentation, which interrupts wildlife migration corridors and causes other environmental problems.

What most Michiganders don’t realize is that the Michigamme Highlands, now under State and Nature Conservancy control, was a piece of the Conservancy’s “conservation puzzle,” which they managed to fit in place….

With the Conservancy, the entire U.P. is a priority target and they won’t be satisfied until they control all of it. You see, God’s Country is a treasure trove of rich natural resources coveted by global corporations and investment trusts whose lust for money sustains China’s greed.

Surely the Conservancy, which professes to be eco-savvy, would know that BHP Billiton Diamonds has located diamonds and other treasures in North West Lake, Michigan….

While the agreement’s intent is the discovery of diamond bearing kimberlite, there are also provisions regarding non-diamond discoveries, and upon meeting certain conditions, Billiton retains a Back In Right to all non-diamond discoveries.

Knowing the UN Isle Royale Biosphere (1981) lay dormant until Clinton foolishly signed the Biodiversity Treaty in 1994, and on a hunch, yours truly went looking online for uranium deposits, as well as gas and oil, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. What can be found under the Conservancy’s pristine “conservation puzzle,” which supposedly needs “protection” from the human footprint, is truly amazing.

In an October 7, 2004 Haywood Securities’ Mining and Exploration – Uranium Sector Report, Bitterroot Resources Ltd of Vancouver, BC, a company engaged in acquisitions and explorations of mineral properties, is listed as a “Player.”

Bitterroot has been involved with the U.P. since 1996 or before, and signed on as an option/joint-venture partner with Kennecott Exploration involving certain goodies found while exploring mineral leases claimed by a Yooper exploration service.

Bitterroot is also involved in a “Great Michigan Peninsula Joint Venture” with Cameco, a Saskatchewan based global giant. Cameco boasts of being the world’s largest uranium producer and claims it will dominate nuclear energy by producing uranium fuel…

At present the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Nature Conservancy, et al, are scrambling to convince the Michigan Supreme Court to reverse an Appeals’ Court decision that the State did not and does not have title to mineral rights on tax reverted land when mineral rights were and are severed from property rights; mineral rights are not taxable and cannot be seized for non-payment of property taxes. Leases to resource exploration and extraction companies fuel the Natural Resource Trust Fund that, in turn, abets land grabbing, but it now appears the State may not own title to mineral rights on some of its public land….

Though few know it, radioactivity has been found in some Copper Country drinking water and for that reason the Western U. P. District Health Department recommends testing well water in areas east of the Keweenaw Fault, which runs from the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula down to the Wisconsin border. This includes portions of Ontonagon, Gogebic, Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw Counties, but particularly a line north of Jacobsville in Houghton and Keweenaw County where conservancies and land trusts have been very busy controlling land….

One thing’s for sure, if the land grabbing and conniving by the State and Conservancy gets anymore frenzied than it already has in the past several years, private property owning Yoopers had better load their cannons and stand ready to defend their gates.

www.newswithviews.com/Williams/carole3.htm


 

December 13, 2003

America’s future:
A nation of renters

World Net Daily

The generation that fought so hard to save the world from communism is now working feverishly to condemn America’s future to socialism. Through dozens of programs, all designed to “protect” the land from development, we are transforming America from the land of the free, to a nation of renters.

Nearly every week, The Nature Conservancy announces a new scheme to “protect” vast stretches of land through outright purchase, the purchase of development rights or through conservation easements. TNC claims they have protected nearly 12 million acres already, and have their eye on another 3 million acres in Alabama and Tennessee. There are more than 1,200 similar “conservancy” organizations in the United States, all doing the same thing.

When a person fragments the title to his land with a perpetual conservation easement, or by selling development rights, he is, in effect, robbing future generations of the opportunity to make their own decisions about how to use the land. What right do we have to deny future generations the use of prime real estate?

The Nature Conservancy paints a pretty picture during the sales pitch: “Imagine a vast natural playground stretching from North Alabama into Central Tennessee. Imagine forests, meadows, rivers and wetlands open to the public for hunting, fishing, canoeing and hiking. Imagine farms managed to be both self-sustaining and environmentally responsible.”

Sounds good, until the “open to the public” goes away. And who decides if, and when, and how long the area may be open to the public? Who decides how to manage the farms? The owner, of course – The Nature Conservancy. The private owners who are convinced to sell development rights or conservation easements sell their right to use their land in any way that’s not agreeable to The Nature Conservancy. When it comes time to sell the land for retirement or to pay medical bills, the land has little value, except to The Nature Conservancy. The price is no longer subject to market demand; it is virtually useless.

When The Nature Conservancy acquires the remaining rights to the land, are they under any obligation to keep the land open to the public? No. Their practice has been to use the land for development, for logging, for oil, or for whatever purpose they desire, including selling vast portions of unusable land to the government – often for a profit.

The campaign to save “the last great places” and all open space has been incredibly successful and even more ridiculous. There is no shortage of space in the United States. Less than 5 percent of the land area is developed, according to the federal government. There is plenty of space, but less and less of it is owned by private individuals.

Governments own nearly 42 percent of the land area and are buying more land every day. Conservancy organizations are buying land for their own “preserves” and selling what they don’t want to government. Not only are we stealing our children’s birthright, we are condemning them to eventually live in a socialist state, where government owns all the sources of production.

In every community where there is an “open space” bond initiative on the ballot, people should organize to defeat it. In every community where local government is planning to install a “comprehensive plan” to dictate the future use of private property, people should organize to defeat it.

At the rate we are now transferring private property to government, and to its surrogate “conservancy” organizations, it will take only a few more generations before all the land is under government ownership or control. America will then truly be a socialist nation.

Had this trend begun a hundred years ago, we would already be a socialist nation of renters, subject to the whims of government. When there is no more private land to produce property tax, will the government stop collecting tax? Hardly. The government will allow us to work its land and tax our productivity to whatever extent it wishes. That’s how it works in socialist nations.

This march toward socialism can be reversed by first recognizing the gross disservice to future generations of our current land-grabbing policies. Then we should force government to begin divesting its gigantic inventories of land, returning it to the private sector where it can again be the basis of our free-market economy.

This can happen only if we have an informed electorate that recognizes the dangers inherent in the present trend, and then works to elect officials at every level of government who share this belief in free markets and are committed to keeping America the land of the free.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization and chairman of Sovereignty International.

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36108


 

VISIT

 THE PEREGRINE GALLERY

To View More Birds of Prey!

JACK ABRAMOFFHENRY PAULSONGALE NORTON

FAYE KURRENNANCY JOHNSONPETER SAVIO

BRUCE BABBITTBEN BENSONDAVID COLE

HAUNANI APOLIONAJEFF WATANABE

COLBERT MATSUMOTOJAMES WATT

LINDA LINGLEJAMES NICHOLSON

 (…with more to come!)

* * * * *


 


 

July 23, 2003

Nature Conservancy – Fraud and Theft!

By Sheriff Mike Cook

Many times in the past I have made comments about the Environmentalist’s using the cause and their organizations to get large sums of money and make themselves rich. Each time I get e-mails and letters from people who say I was totally wrong and way off base. I have even stated that the concern for the movement had been totally absorbed by those who were after the money and not the cause. Again I was chastised by those who believe the cause was pure and that people within the cause wouldn’t use it for that purpose. Well now I get to say I told you so.

There is now a Senate Committee in Congress investigating the Nature Conservancy. If you don’t know, the Nature Conservancy is a non-profit charitable organization. They have been taking the money they get and buying land all over America. They buy this land then add development restrictions to it, then it is resold for less money. The buyers of this land then make tax-deductible gifts to the nonprofit, Nature Conservancy. Does this rouse your curiosity yet?

Now here is the big one. It seems this organization has been making large, no interest loans to their employees. Such as a $1.5 million loan to President Steven J. McCormick and a $500,000 mortgage extended to California state director Graham Chisholm. Boy, wouldn’t you and I like working for an organization like that? Some sources say the loans are then “forgiven” and they don’t have to pay it back.

Now the Senate committee is also asking for the land sales records to government agencies, including appraisals and any profits banked by the Nature Conservancy. They are also asking for records and a list of grants from other nonprofit organizations like the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Forest Foundation, and the National Park Foundation.

I don’t know about you, but I smell something real bad in all this. It is my belief that I was right on the money when I said they are in this for the big bucks and nothing else. What makes me mad, and should make you mad as well, is that they are doing a lot of this with our tax money! They are abusing the system to get everything they want, using taxpayer money to do it with, and they don’t pay any taxes.

With any kind of luck, they will get what is coming to them in the way of justice. But what will be done about all the damage they have already caused? Will the government go back and right these wrongs? I don’t think that will happen at all. Those people will probably walk away with a big grin and all the money and land.

We try to raise our children the right way and tell them crime doesn’t pay, and that honesty is the best policy. Then they see things like this and former President Clinton beating the system by lies, cheating, and crime. How in the world can a parent prove to a child that this is wrong when people who do it are never punished for what they do? This must come to a stop, and the people of America had better wake up and demand a stop to it or we will be lost forever. I still believe that truth, justice, and the American way are the best, however I think they are slowly proving that it no longer exists in Washington D.C.

One answer is to be careful who you donate money to, who you vote for, and to become involved. Everyone has been upset at one time or another when hearing about organized crime or if they were a victim of crime. Well, this is the same thing. You and I are not only the victims, we get to pay for it!.

As victims we have a right to demand justice and I believe we should. Write letter’s, send e-mails, or make phone calls and demand justice. You will feel better and be able to point out the right thing to your children for a change.

God Bless America.

God Bless our troops, still in harms way.

– Michael E. Cook, Coos County Sheriff, Retired.

www.sierratimes.com/03/07/23/sheriff.htm


 

December 2, 2005

Private, Corporate Donations Sought to Fund U.S. National Parks

By Sunny Lewis, Environment News Service

HONOLULU, Hawaii – More than 55 Congressmen have signed on to legislation that would effectively privatize the national parks to fund their expenses.

Congressman Mark Souder, an Indiana Republican, has written the bill that he believes would eliminate the parks’ annual funding shortfalls and maintenance backlog by the year 2016 when the country celebrates the 100the anniversary of the National Park System – by encouraging individual and corporate donations.

Sauder was in Honolulu on Thursday for the sixth in a series of hearings across the country to build support for his bill, the National Park Centennial Act, H.R. 1124. Sauder is interested in hearing about the funding shortfalls in the national parks in his role as chairman of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources of the House Committee on Government Reform, which has jurisdiction over the national parks. Souder is also a member of the House Resources Committee, to which his bill has been referred.

Souder was joined for the hearing by Hawaii Congressmen Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case, both Democrats. Case is a co-sponsor of the National Park Centennail Act, but Abercrombie is not.

The lawmakers heard testimony from Frank Hays, the Pacific Area Director of the National Park Service, and the superintendents of three of Hawaii’s seven national parks.

A second panel of witnesses included representatives of the Nature Conservancy, the National Parks Conservation Association, and Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as a spokesman for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Museum Association. The U.S. Navy memorial, commemorating those who died in the World War II attack on Pearl Harbor, is operated by the National Park Service.

Because Hawaii’s parks lack adequate funding, invasive species – from noisy coqui frogs, to invasive marine algae, to a new rust that attacks native ohia trees – are running rampant, Souder was told.

Congressman Case has introduced a bill to require the same or greater level of federal inspection of all visitor and cargo shipments arriving in Hawaii from domestic and foreign locations as now exists for outgoing traffic – an expensive proposition. Case said such a law is the only way to overcome “a true crisis” caused by invasive species and diseases….

Congressman Abercrombie is most concerned about the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, which also attracts about 1.5 million people each year … A new $30 to $40 million visitor center and ticketing improvements are planned, and Abercrombie would like to see a transit station that serves the memorial if Honolulu decides to build a rapid transit system.

Hayes said Hawaii National Park units received about $19 million in operations and maintenance funding in fiscal year 2004, an increase of about six percent over last year. He emphasized the public-private partnerships the National Park Service is involved in such as invasive species committees and a land management effort involving state and federal entities and private landowners.

Chronic funding shortfalls have created annual gaps in operational funding for the National Park System that exceed $600 million, and the current maintenance backlog is estimated by the General Accountability Office at between $4 billion and $6.8 billion.

Souder’s approach to funding the needs of the National Parks is focused on the contributions of private citizens and corporations, a reversal of the way the parks are funded today, by the federal government.

Souder’s legislation, the National Park Centennial Act, which establishes the National Park Centennial fund in the Treasure, was introduced in March and has 59 co-sponsors.

It would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow individual taxpayers to designate overpayments and contributions for the benefit of the National Park System. The legislation provides new funding for the parks in part from a voluntary check-off on federal income tax returns. Congress would also contribute to support the parks.

Souder described the process, saying, “First let’s let citizens give money, and the federal government will match or make up those funding gaps.”…

While the Souder bill’s co-sponsors are drawn from both sides of the aisle, the idea of allowing corporate sponsorships in the national parks has its critics. Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national association of government employees in natural resources agencies, is one of them.

“This starts a slow motion commercialization of the national park system,” Ruch said on Wednesday….

The National Park Service has issued a draft directive encouraging active pursuit of potential financial donors and repealing the agency’s current passive posture of accepting donations. The directive liberalized the policy offering naming rights for trails, benches, rooms and other facilities, but not parks themselves. It allows display of commercial logos and slogans on park literature, computer screens and plaques.

The plan reverses bans against accepting or soliciting donations from vendors, concessionaires and others doing business with the parks.

“Large corporate donations exert a not-so-subtle gravitational pull on park managers who are increasingly dependent on these donors for their budgets,” Ruch said.

He said PEER is already hearing from park employees who have been transferred or reassigned to placate donors. “Influence peddling will soon become a major recreational activity in our national parks,” he said.

The Fiscal Year 2005 budget is approximately $1.7 billion to cover operating expenses for the 388 units presently within the National Park System.

The National Park Centennial Act has been referred to two committees – the Subcommittee of National Parks of the House Resources Committee, and the House Ways and Means Committee.

www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2005/2005-12-05-02.asp


 

From The Nature Conservancy website:

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Why the Conservancy Selected The Site

This region encompasses the world’s most unique and irreplaceable patchwork of lands that provides migration corridors and winter range for elk, bison, and pronghorn antelope. The GYE also presents the opportunity to sustain predator prey relationships in balance with the prosperity of local communities and achieve transformational conservation results…

Our Conservation Strategy

The Conservancy’s goal is to collaborate with landowners, conservation groups and the many stakeholders using a science-based, non-confrontational approach to protecting the most ecologically important lands in this incomparable region. Or approach is to support voluntary, private land conservation of important wildlife habitat. Conservation easements, land acquisition, stewardship agreements, grassbanks, prescribed fires and wood districts are a few of the tools the Conservancy and its partners use to protect this region’s natural heritage…

www.nature.org/exclude/print.php

$ $ $

From The Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Chapter website:

EXPLORE YELLOWSTONE AND TENSLEEP PRESERVE

AUGUST 29 – SEPTEMBER 4, 2003

With the assistance of A.K. Taylor International, a travel company that specializes in African safaris and remote adventure travel, the Nature Conservancy (WY) and the Yellowstone Park Foundation have teamed up to offer what may well be one of the best Western Safaries offered in the Yellowstone region this season. The idea of this trip is to expose people to a “behind the scenes glimpse” of the wonders found in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Wyoming – in and around Yellowstone National Park – “America’s Seregeti.”

This trip is limited to a maximum of 15 participants and will have a guide ration of 1:3. At Tensleep, we will learn about the conservation issues facing the Nature Conservancy, both on the 8,500 acre Preserve and in the state, while soaking in the beautiful private surroundings….


 

January 6, 2006

Auditor slams state
conservation efforts

Mismanagement and a lack of resources
could cost Hawaii its “fertile environment”

By Mary Vorsino, Honolulu Star-Bulletin

STATE conservation enforcement officers are spread thin, undertrained, under-equipped and mismanaged, leaving Hawaii’s natural resources susceptible to blatant “overuse and abuse,” said state Auditor Marion Higa in a report released yesterday.

“If resources continue to be depleted at their current rate and conservation enforcement remains ineffective and inefficient, Hawaii’s future generations will lose the enrichment of abundant wildlife, a fertile environment and a rich cultural heritage,” said the audit, which reviewed the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. “The absence of enforcement coverage contributes, in part, to overuse and abuse of Hawaii’s resources.”

The 60-page report, compiled between May and December, said enforcement officers are often pulled from conservation patrols to work on crime prevention and marijuana eradication.

The enforcement division has a $7.5 million budget and employs 103 people. Its officers are responsible for 1.3 million acres, from the tops of mountains to the coastlines and three miles out to sea.

Though the division’s staff is small – and overstretched – the audit noted that the state does not use its enforcement “workforce efficiently and therefore does not provide as much enforcement coverage as could be possible. Through improved work methods and better scheduling, available staff could provide more widespread coverage for longer periods each day.”

Lawmakers and environmentalists said the audit confirmed their suspicions about the state of conservation enforcement in the islands and raised serious concerns about the well-being of Hawaii’s environment….

“The fundamental problem is that whatever new law we enact, it doesn.ht have a lot of credibility if we can’t enforce it,” said state Rep. Brian Schatz (D. Tantalus-Makiki_, one of several legislators who pushed for the audit last year. “We have work to do. The first step to improving the division is admitting that it’s not running at an optimal level.”

DLNR Chairman Peter Young said the findings and recommendations in the audit “were not a surprise.”

He said he is already working to solve some staffing and compliance issues, and will go to the state Legislature this year with an increased budget request.

Young declined to release details on his upcoming budget request but did say he would ask for $800,000 to hire private, uniformed security officers who would patrol 22 state parks during peak hours or when violations tend to occur. He said it is still unclear whether the officers would be able to issue citations.

(CB: Uh, oh! Could this be another case of the fox guarding the henhouse? Take a gander at Who’s Guarding the Henhouse, to see what I’m whistling about! )

Also in the request is about $1 million that would be granted to Hawaii environmental groups to provide education on the state’s conservation laws.

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Sierra Club in Hawaii, said under-funding is a key part of the division’s woes. But, he said, leadership is also an issue.

“What we really need is an environmental 911,” he said, adding that enforcement officers should be better supervised and held to higher standards….

State Rep. Hermina Morita, chairwoman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, agreed, saying she wants the division to work on its “priorities for enforcement.”

For example, she said, enforcement officers should be hunting out poachers or illegal loggers before looking for marijuana plants….

www.starbulletin.com/2006/01/06/news/story01.html


 

January 9, 2006

From the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources website:

You are invited to attend a press conference headed by DLNR beginning at 2:00 p.m., Monday, January 9, 2006, st the Kalanimoku Building, 1151 Punchbowl, Room 130.

Peter Young, DLNR Chairperson will provide details on DLNR’s unprecedented budget request of $92-million to the Legislature…

www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/Welcome.html


 

October 15, 2005

DeLay Reaction

By John Dawson, www.worldmag.com

It will surprise no one in Washington that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is a sinner. His Democratic counterpart, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and DNC party chair Howard Dean have called him corrupt following indictments stemming from a fundraising sandal in Texas that forced him to step down from his leadership position. But Democrats are talking politics.

DeLay friend Mark Souder (R-Ind.) knows the former leader from dealings in the House and from a Capitol Hill Bible study.

 “I’m definitely a DeLay ally,” Mr. Souder says. “ I call him the greatest repenter I’ve ever met. He struggles with anger and aggression.”

The cumulative effect of the DeLay indictments, investigations into a stock sale by Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, and ongoing FBI probes into fundraising by GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff are making conservatives nervous…

www.worldmag.com/subscriber/displayarticle.cfm?id=11144


 

November 17, 2005

Atoll as laboratory

Hawaii and mainland scientists head to Palmyra to study a coral ecosystem still largely untouched

By Diana Leone, dleone@starbulletin.com

DOZENS of top scientists are launching cooperative research on remote Palmyra Atoll that could provide new insights into climate change, disappearing coral reefs and other global environmental issues.

The consortium, which includes the University of Hawaii, Stanford University and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will use a $1.5 million research center recently built on the atoll’s Cooper Island by the Nature Conservancy.

“The thing that makes Palmyra so sexy to a researcher is that there are very few human impacts,” said Barry Stieglitz, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s senior policy-maker for Pacific islands.

Studying the coral reef ecosystem on this tiny National Wildlife Refuge, 960 miles south of Honolulu, will be “establishing a base line against which other places can be measured,” he said.

According to Rob Dunbar, a Stanford oceanographer who has helped set the consortium in motion, projects will include:

» Learning about long-term cycles of wet and dry years, by decoding information stored in coral colonies that are thousands of years old.

» Better understanding of how humans have affected coral reef ecosystems on inhabited islands by studying the almost untouched plants and animals of an ocean paradise.

» Striving to save a tropical forest of pisonia trees from the onslaught of invasive ants and scale disease.

“This place is so remote,” Stieglitz said. “It’s not like any other place.”

The Nature Conservancy bought the formerly private atoll, with 600 land acres and 480,000 acres of submerged reef, from the Fullard-Leo family in 2000, then sold most of it to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The atoll’s water and land is home to 125 different coral species (three times more than in Hawaii), 29 bird species, the endangered green sea turtle and dozens of other marine creatures.

The Fullard-Leo family turned down development offers over the years that proposed turning the atoll into a nuclear depository or a casino.

On the several hundred land acres the Nature Conservancy kept, it used a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to build a research station that can accommodate up to 20 researchers at a time. The complex has an up-to-date lab, 100,000-gallon freshwater catchment, 24-hour electricity and an environmentally friendly septic system.

The 14 small screened-window huts for researchers to live in are simple but pleasant, said Dunbar, who hopes to spend about three weeks a year there over the next five years.

“I hope it will have a lot to tell us about a healthy marine ecosystem,” said Suzanne Case, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Hawaii, as well as document the effects of a Navy air base there in World War II.

http://starbulletin.com/2005/11/17/news/story08.html


 

November 16, 2005

The Nature Conservancy Joins World’s Top Scientists to Launch Climate Change Research Station on Palmyra Atoll

Secluded Palmyra Atoll will allow scientists
to study threats to coral reefs

The Nature Conservancy

HONOLULU – A team of the world’s leading scientists has joined forces with The Nature Conservancy to launch a new research station on Palmyra Atoll, a tiny National Wildlife Refuge in the central Pacific, where they will study climate change, disappearing coral reefs, invasive species and other global environmental threats.

Located 1,000 miles south of Hawai‘i and surrounded by one of the most spectacular coral reef ecosystems in the world, Palmyra offers a unique laboratory setting to develop conservation strategies that can then be used to assist threatened marine habitats around the world.

Inaugural members of the research consortium include Stanford University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, American Museum of Natural History, California Academy of Sciences, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of California at Irvine, University of Hawai‘i, U.S. Geological Survey, The Nature Conservancy and Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The consortium will work in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the atoll as a National Wildlife Refuge.

“The Conservancy has long recognized Palmyra’s potential as a site for scientific research. Its phenomenal biodiversity and the fact that humans have had very little impact on the atoll make it an ideal laboratory,” said Suzanne Case, the Conservancy’s Hawai‘i Executive Director. “Working together with these world-renowned institutions, we can discover and develop new conservation strategies for island habitats throughout the Pacific and around the world.”

Consortium scientists will conduct their work at a new research station built on Palmyra by The Nature Conservancy earlier this year. The Conservancy’s Hawai‘i program will operate the new station and assist the Fish and Wildlife Service, the nation’s principal wildlife conservation agency, in protecting and conserving the atoll’s significant terrestrial and marine resources….

In January of 2001, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended further protection to Palmyra when it designated its 450 acres of land and 480,647 acres of lagoons, coral reefs and submerged lands and waters as a national wildlife refuge.

Anders Lyons, former director of the Conservancy’s Maui program, has been tapped to be the new Palmyra Project Director. Lyons will work with the Fish and Wildlife Service on conservation management at Palmyra and also oversee operation of the new research station….

~ ~ ~

< < < PALMYRA FLASHBACK < < <

From Washington on $10 Million a Day : . . . Lobbyists and Nuclear Visigoths . . . Big money corporate lobbyists don’t always win their battles, but when they are defeated it’s rarely because Congress or the White House rises to defend the public interest. More likely, the scheme being advanced was so loopy that even official Washington was too embarrassed to take up the cause.

That’s the case with a multi-billion plot put together by a cabal of beltway con men who hoped to dump tons of nuclear waste on a Pacific island.

Despite having been defeated, the would-be scheme is noteworthy in showing that well-connected capital honchos and aggressive lobbying can keep even the nuttiest projects in play. . . . The corporate vehicle for the plan is U.S. Fuel and Security Inc. (USF&S), a Washington-based firm….

USF&S had an easy time lining up money and influence peddlers to back its plan. Finding a dump site proved more difficult. Like a crew of punch drunk sailors lost at sea, Murphy & Co have desperately scouted the horizon for a Pacific Island where they can come aground. (Alex) Copson explained to me that the Pacific was chosen because it lies between Russia and the U.S., and because it is littered with “useless dots of real estate.”

As he sees it, sacrificing a “tiny piece of bullshit in the Pacific” is a small price to pay in order to avoid the doomsday scenario of nuclear annihilation….

USF&S first approached the Marshall Islands … Another possibility explored by USF&S was Midway Island …

The next port of call was Palmyra, a tiny atoll about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii which is owned by the Fullard-Leo family of Honolulu but administered by the Dept of the Interior. USF&S drew up plans that showed that all the world’s spent fuel could fit in the atoll’s 5,400-acre lagoon, which would be filled with cement to prevent leakage.

Peter Savio, the Fullard-Leo’s Honolulu-based real estate broker, said a Wall Street firm headed by Kirch, KVR, agreed to pay “in excess of $40 million” for Palmyra. “The buyers claimed they were interested in building a hotel and also mentioned plans for some sort of scientific research,” he said.

“They never discussed using the island as a nuclear waste site.”

Once again, strong opposition to the plan arose when word leaked out about Murphy & Co’s true intentions. … Hawaii’s congressional delegation soon entered the fray, with all six members signing a letter to President Clinton in June of 1996 urging him to oppose the project….

The death knell for the Palmyra plan came in August, when the White House sent Senator Akaka a letter promising that the Administration would “strongly oppose” the USF&S proposal. KVR then decided not to buy Palmyra, costing Kirch’s firm what Savio termed a “substantial deposit.”

Copson was as bitter about this setback as he was about the unraveling of the Marshalls plan. During our conversation he called Senator Akaka an “ignorant lightweight.” McGarey, the senator’s aide, would “realize the error of his ways when terrorists set off a bomb in Tel Aviv.”…

For more poop on Peter Savio flock, GO TO > > > Broken Trusts; The Puna Connection; OUST vs. Harmon: Witness Peter Savio


 

February 8, 2005

The Nature Conservancy Applauds Bush Administration’s Support for Tennessee’s Walls of Jericho Forest Legacy Project in FY 2006 Budget

The Nature Conservancy

Nashville, TN — The Nature Conservancy today applauded President Bush’s request for $80 million in funding for the Forest Legacy Program for Fiscal Year 2006, including $1.4 million that will go toward the Walls of Jericho….

The Walls of Jericho is 21,453 acres of rivers, forested uplands and caves spreading across the Alabama and Tennessee state line….

“We are pleased that despite tight budgetary constraints this year the President has requested this funding,” said Scott Davis, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Tennessee chapter….

The Nature Conservancy bought the land from Stevenson Land Company. The Alabama Division of State Lands through the Forever Wild program intends to buy from the Conservancy the 12,510 acres of land in its state.

The Nature Conservancy will hold the 8,943 acres in Franklin County, Tennessee and the Tennessee Chapter will continue fundraising for the site.

Along with applauding the Bush administration for including funding for including the Walls of Jericho in his budget, Davis also commended U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, Rep. Zach Wamp, U.S. Sen. Bill Frist and Sen. Lamar Alexander for their longtime support of the project.

In FY 2005, the Walls of Jericho project received $3.5 million that will allow The Nature Conservancy to transfer 6,287 acres into state ownership.

The Forest Legacy Program is a partnership between the United States Forest Service (USFS), state governments and private landowners that identifies and protects ecologically important forest habitat which is threatened by possible development or unsustainable practices. Program objectives are met through land acquisition or the use of conservation easements, which protect working forests while meeting important conservation goals.

Since its first appropriations in Fiscal Year 1992, the Forest Legacy Program has conserved over one million acres across 29 states and territories. This program has also provided excellent leverage of the forest conservation federal investment by protecting over $384 million of land value with a Federal investment of $198 million.

The Bush Administration’s Forest Legacy Program budget is part of the larger Fiscal Year 2006 funding bill for the Department of the Interior and the USFS.

Since 1970, public and private partners have been working to protect the “Walls of Jericho” in the Southern Cumberland Plateau. Once part of Texas oil baron Harry Lee Carter’s 60,000-acre property, the site was open for public access. When Carter died in 1977, the land was divided and officially closed to public visitors….


 

July 23, 2003

EPA Investigating Nature Conservancy at Landmark’s Request

www.libertymatters.org

HERNDON, Va., July 17 /PRNewswire — Based on a complaint filed by Landmark Legal Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency has informed Landmark that it will conduct an in-depth investigation, including on-site reviews, to determine if the Nature Conservancy has used any EPA grant money to subsidize the purchase of lands for the benefit of Board members, trustees or employees.

In her letter to Landmark, Linda J. Fisher, Acting EPA Administrator, stated, in part:

“EPA’s Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) will … initiate a more in- depth review of this issue. The review will examine in greater detail not only whether the Conservancy grants were used for land acquisition activities, but will conduct an on-site review of the Conservancy’s administrative systems. OGD expects to complete its work within ninety days and will then inform you of the results of the review. If the review provides evidence of waste, fraud, or abuse, OGD will refer the matter to the Office of the Inspector General and take necessary administrative action.”…

Landmark president, Mark R. Levin, said: “The EPA’s investigation of the Nature Conservancy and its implementation of new FOIA rules are important first steps toward ensuring that the Agency is accountable for its disbursement of over $2 billion in taxpayer funds to non-profit special interest groups, and that it’s subject to public oversight by preserving and making available information that reveals its decision-making processes.”

Landmark is a public interest legal group with offices in Herndon, VA and Kansas City, MO…

www.citizenreviewonline.org/july_2003/the_nature.htm


 

July 4, 2003

Volcanoes park
adds 116,000 acres

By Rod Thompson, Honolulu Star-Bulletin

HILO >> The National Park Service and Nature Conservancy announced the completion of the purchase of the 116,000-acre Kahuku Ranch for addition to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park yesterday.

The purchase is the largest conservation transaction in Hawaii’s history, the agencies said.

The addition enlarges the park by more than 50 percent. It creates a huge sweep of parkland that arches from the lava flow areas near Puu Oo to the top of Mauna Loa and down the southwest rift of Mauna Loa through lava fields, native forests and pasture lands.

“This property is a conservation jewel for the state of Hawaii,” said Suzanne Case, the Hawaii director of the conservancy.

“There are extensive areas of native forest,” she said. “Even the areas in lava have rare Hawaiian insects in them.”

The conservancy helped in the purchase of the land from the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon for $22 million.

If the buy had not gone through, there was speculation the land would have been cut up for sale as “gentleman estates.”

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye acquired $16 million for the purchase, with the Nature Conservancy providing “bridge financing” of the remainder. Congress is expected eventually to provide funds to reimburse the conservancy for that financing….

The purchase includes all of Kahuku Ranch above the Hawaii Belt Road, thereby excluding a small piece of the ranch below the road where ranch headquarters sit.

Volcanoes park Superintendent Jim Martin said the new area represents a “real management challenge.”

The first year of so will involve taking public comments on how to use the area, he said.

The most likely scenario is active uses such as camping, hiking and horseback riding in the lower areas, he said. The upland area, up to 12,600 feet, would likely remain as wilderness.

The park has no additional money to manage the area, he said, adding, “It’s not going to cost us a whole lot more right now.”

The property is a working ranch which had 4,500 cattle when Damon proposed the purchase four years ago, he said.

Purchase of Kahuku was the top priority in the nation for the National Park Service, which has been interested in the ranch since 1938, Martin said.


 

May 13, 2003

Insider trading infects
Nature Conservancy

Palm Beach Post Editorial

The Nature Conservancy, whose brand name is right up there with Good Housekeeping, has been running a scam worthy of Enron. As described last week in a Washington Post series titled “Big Green,” the environmental charity bought pristine lands, then sold them at a discount to trustees for fabulous private-home sites.

Nature Conservancy President and CEO Steven J. McCormick whined that the Post had “painted a distorted picture” and “misrepresented our motives and methods.” Wrong response. The Nature Conservancy, with 1 million members and $3 billion in assets, has done a tremendous amount of good throughout its 52 years in places that include Palm Beach County. Having been caught, dishing out lame excuses only makes the damage worse. There is no excuse for the so-called “conservation buyer” deals, which worked this way:

The conservancy would buy an unspoiled property — such purchases are the group’s specialty, as its name implies — then sell the land at a much-reduced price to a buyer who agreed to development restrictions. No problem so far. But in many cases, the buyer was a Nature Conservancy insider who had contributed to the organization an amount that happened to match the “discount.” The buyer then claimed an IRS deduction for the “gift.”

In effect, taxpayers subsidized the sweetheart purchases. The development “restrictions” were carefully written to allow construction of the buyer’s grandiose dream home. Beneficiaries included Oracle software executives and David Letterman, who acquired property on Martha’s Vineyard. The Washington Post also described failed business ventures and environmentally damaging attempts to drill for gas on Nature Conservancy land.

The charity also gave Mr. McCormick a $1.5 million loan for a low rate that the group tried to conceal….

www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/913477/posts


 

 

WHO GIVES THE GREEN?

www.green-watch.com/search/orgdisplay.asp?Org=NCO177#grant

 


 

February 8, 2005

The Nature Conservancy Applauds Bush Administration’s Support for Tennessee’s Walls of Jericho Forest Legacy Project in FY 2006 Budget

The Nature Conservancy

Nashville, TN — The Nature Conservancy today applauded President Bush’s request for $80 million in funding for the Forest Legacy Program for Fiscal Year 2006, including $1.4 million that will go toward the Walls of Jericho….

The Walls of Jericho is 21,453 acres of rivers, forested uplands and caves spreading across the Alabama and Tennessee state line….

“We are pleased that despite tight budgetary constraints this year the President has requested this funding,” said Scott Davis, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Tennessee chapter….

The Nature Conservancy bought the land from Stevenson Land Company. The Alabama Division of State Lands through the Forever Wild program intends to buy from the Conservancy the 12,510 acres of land in its state.

The Nature Conservancy will hold the 8,943 acres in Franklin County, Tennessee and the Tennessee Chapter will continue fundraising for the site.

Along with applauding the Bush administration for including funding for including the Walls of Jericho in his budget, Davis also commended U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, Rep. Zach Wamp, U.S. Sen. Bill Frist and Sen. Lamar Alexander for their longtime support of the project.

In FY 2005, the Walls of Jericho project received $3.5 million that will allow The Nature Conservancy to transfer 6,287 acres into state ownership.

The Forest Legacy Program is a partnership between the United States Forest Service (USFS), state governments and private landowners that identifies and protects ecologically important forest habitat which is threatened by possible development or unsustainable practices. Program objectives are met through land acquisition or the use of conservation easements, which protect working forests while meeting important conservation goals.

Since its first appropriations in Fiscal Year 1992, the Forest Legacy Program has conserved over one million acres across 29 states and territories. This program has also provided excellent leverage of the forest conservation federal investment by protecting over $384 million of land value with a Federal investment of $198 million.

The Bush Administration’s Forest Legacy Program budget is part of the larger Fiscal Year 2006 funding bill for the Department of the Interior and the USFS.

Since 1970, public and private partners have been working to protect the “Walls of Jericho” in the Southern Cumberland Plateau. Once part of Texas oil baron Harry Lee Carter’s 60,000-acre property, the site was open for public access.

When Carter died in 1977, the land was divided and officially closed to public visitors….


 

March 22, 2001

Saving the Rich

Let’s get beyond the cows vs. condos soundbite.

By Susan Zakin, Tucson Weekly

A few years ago, I visited the 22,000-acre San Rafael ranch near Patagonia with a group of reporters. It was a beautiful day, the sky a clear, deep blue. Wide-open space stretched as far as the eye could see. It looked great, unless you happened to notice the river that was dead and the only tree, an old cottonwood that was about to join it in the afterlife.

To the educated eye, the ranch looked like Chernobyl. But the Eastern reporters in Tucson for an environmental journalism conference didn’t know the difference.

“Wow, isn’t the sky blue?!!” was the most common remark.

Before the dog-and-pony show started, a local environmentalist pulled me aside. “Susan,” he said. “We’re a millimeter away from a deal here. I don’t want to piss this guy off. Capish?”

Obediently, I kept my trap shut as Bob Sharp, the ranch’s owner, told us that the legal mission of multiple use on the public lands was outmoded. “Damn right,” I thought, surveying the sorry excuse for a river. Then Sharp announced that in the national forests surrounding his ranch, grazing should be the primary use.

Holy cow. I had been cast into that strange parallel universe of ranchers and their shills, anthropologists and public policy wonks whose idea of solving problems is to hold consensus meetings that don’t include the other side and then pretend everyone agrees. One of my friends calls these folks ranch symps. I get along better with the right-wing militia types I met up in Catron County than these pathetic wannabes.

But something has to be done to bridge this historical gap between the frontier, which keeps getting declared dead but seems to hang on forever, and the brave new, overpopulated world. I’m still grasping for the solution, but I can’t believe it has to be based on a lie. Unfortunately many groups working on this problem seem to find it necessary to obfuscate.

A few years ago, the Nature Conservancy bought the ranch I had visited. The Conservancy then sold it to Wharton School of Business-trained entrepreneur Ross Humphreys, but retained “a conservation easement.” This means Humphreys bought the ranch without the right to subdivide or develop the land. This is the tool of choice for what is being called “ranch conservation.”

Soon, even deals like this may be a thing of the past. Ranchers want to set a time limit on conservation easements so they can subdivide later. That means they can subdivide down the road.

Humphreys, who also runs a book publishing company in town, owns three large Arizona ranches, including the San Rafael. Humphreys, who has worked closely with the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recently stopped grazing on one of these, the Palo Alto, 32,000 acres of leased state land and deeded property. By his own admission, the ranch is too hammered.

Instead, Humphreys, a “conservation rancher,” is working with the USFWS to set up a mitigation bank on the Palo Alto for the Pima pineapple cactus. This means when a developer wants to screw up an acre of habitat, he can pay Humphreys to “protect” several acres of pineapple cactus habitat.

The deal isn’t set up yet, but the way this usually works is a 3:1 ratio. For every acre of destroyed habitat, a developer has to set aside three acres of intact habitat. They’ve been doing this for years in California, but it’s new in Arizona.

Guess what? Grazing isn’t considered a danger to the Pima pineapple cactus. Humphreys will be able to run cattle and still collect his mitigation bank money.

What does that tell you?

To me, it says that Ross Humphreys is a smart guy and someday he is going to be very, very rich. Humphreys pointed out that large pieces of land, even with legal restrictions against subdividing, will become increasingly valuable as Arizona runs out of open space.

“So you’re looking at it not so much as a cattle ranch, but as a private estate?” I asked.

“I am,” said Humphries.

This may be the only way to make money on ranching these days. But, aristo-ranchers like Humphries are nothing new.

In 1999, the San Jose Mercury-News ran a prize-winning series on ranching. Reporters used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain records revealing how “Rolex ranchers” such as hotel mogul Barron Hilton, beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch Inc. and Mary Hewlett-Jaffe, daughter of Silicon Valley billionaire William Hewlett, benefited from below-market grazing fees. For instance reporters found that the top 10 percent of grazing permit holders control 65 percent of all livestock on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Essentially, what’s going on now is a “soft landing” for country squires like Bob Sharp, whose ecologically destructive habits are no longer viable, no matter how much federal money they get. In the process, we’re creating a new generation of landed gentry.

What we’re missing is the chance to bring ecological treasures, like the famous Grey Ranch in southern New Mexico, into the public domain. A few years ago, the Grey could have become a national wildlife refuge. Cattle would have been removed and the ranch opened to the public. But the Nature Conservancy decided to sell it to a nouveau rancher, Budweiser multimillionaire trustafarian Drum Hadley….

I’m not arguing against The Nature Conservancy stopping real estate development on private land like the San Rafael Ranch. But the misleading rhetoric of groups like TNC and other ranch symp groups like the Udall Center is stifling public debate and may even be preventing long-term solutions. It’s time to admit, once and for all, that the cowboy has no chaps. Then we might finally see reform of antiquated, environmentally destructive public lands policies.

The truth will set more land free than a thousand Rolex ranchers.

www.tucsonweekly.com/gbase/opinion/Content?oid=oid:43812


 

January 7, 1999

Nature Conservancy
looks to buy coral atoll

With federal help, Palmyra may
become a national refuge

By Lori Tighe, Star-Bulletin

The U.S. government’s $8 million appropriation to buy Palmyra Atoll, “a postcard paradise,” has pleased its owners, but didn’t bring a sale any closer.

The $8 million is the largest allocation for a federal refuge in the western United States, said U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye yesterday.

The asking price is roughly $35 million, but private funds from the Nature Conservancy are intended to help pay for it.

The Nature Conservancy, which is negotiating the deal, made its second offer in December to buy Palmyra Atoll, 1,000 miles south of Hawaii, from the Fullard-Leo family. They have owned Palmyra since the 1920s and bought it for $22,000.

“The appropriation is positive, but there’s still no agreement on price,” said Peter Savio, agent representing the family, and owner of Palmyra Development and Savio Realty.

“We’re thrilled about the $8 million,” said Barbara Maxfield, Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman. “We’re hopeful the Nature Conservancy can work out a deal with the landowners.”

If the Nature Conservancy buys Palmyra, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will run it as a national refuge with limited public use….

Palmyra Atoll, which has 600 land acres and 15,000 acres of coral reefs, remains the world’s only undeveloped wet atoll, Maragos said.

Read the complete story at…

http://starbulletin.com/1999/01/07/news/story10.html


 

February 2, 2006

Woodpecker Racket?

By Steven Milloy, Fox News

Last year’s reported sighting in eastern Arkansas of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, raised the hopes of bird-watchers everywhere.

But now a prominent bird expert has cast serious doubt on the report, characterizing it as “faith-based” ornithology and “a disservice to science.”

Writing in the ornithology journal The Auk (January 2006), Florida Gulf Coast University ornithologist Jerome A. Jackson criticized the “evidence” put forth to support the conclusion that the Woodpecker wasn’t extinct after all — including a four-second video of an alleged sighting which garnered widespread media attention; several other anecdotal sightings; and acoustic signals purported to be vocalization and raps from the Woodpecker.

News of the alleged Woodpecker sighting caught on video was first released in late-April 2005 in ScienceExpress, an online component of Science magazine. The full report subsequently appeared in the June 3 issue of Science.

“While the world rejoiced, my elation turned to disbelief,” wrote Jackson. “I had seen the ‘confirming’ video in the news releases and recognized its poor quality, but I had believed [anyway],” he continued.

“Then I saw [a still image] and seriously doubted that this evidence was confirmation of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Even a cursory comparison of this figure with [photographs and illustrations of real Ivory-billed Woodpeckers] shows that the white on the wing of the bird… is too extensive to be that of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker,” Jackson wrote….

Jackson went on to conclude that, “My opinion is that the bird in the is a normal Pileated Woodpecker… Others have independently come to the same conclusion, and publication of independent analyses may be forthcoming.”

Jackson isn’t some inveterate or knee-jerk skeptic with respect to the possibility of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker’s existence. In fact, in 1986 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service convened a panel to “officially” declare the Woodpecker extinct, Jackson argued that “it was unreasonable to declare the species extinct without making a serious effort to find it.”

Only time will tell whether the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is, in fact, extinct, but one thing is certain — the fanfare announcing these now-suspect sightings was way overblown. And it’s worth noting that the beneficiaries of all this hoopla were also the ones behind it.

The search to “find” the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was organized, supported and launched by the Nature Conservancy. The subsequent “find” was announced and widely publicized by the Nature Conservancy. Now, according to Jackson’s article, it seems the Nature Conservancy also stands to benefit substantially from its own “discovery,” possibly to the tune of $10.2 million federal dollars and hundreds of thousands of acres in Arkansas.

To Jackson’s dismay, this money, which had originally been designated for other ongoing endangered species projects, has now been diverted into a “recovery” effort for the apparently-still-extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker — involving none other than the Nature Conservancy, a private “nonprofit” group that uses land acquisition to advance its self-proclaimed “conservation” agenda.

But a series of Washington Post articles in May 2003 exposed the Nature Conservancy, the world’s richest environmental group with $3 billion in assets, as more than just a “land bank.” In the past it has also acted as a broker of too-sweet-to-be-true land and business deals for wealthy insiders and corporate supporters, often at taxpayer expense.

In one scheme reported by the Post, “…the Conservancy bought raw land, attached development restrictions and then resold the land to state trustees and other supporters at greatly reduced prices. Buyers then voluntarily gave the Conservancy charitable contributions roughly equivalent to the discounts, sums that were written off from the buyers’ federal income taxes. The deals generally allowed the buyers to build homes on the land.”

What’s all this got to do with the Ivory-billed Woodpecker?

The Nature Conservancy says on its web site that it “has helped protect more than 120,000 acres of [eastern Arkansas forests], and is now aiming to conserve and restore an additional 200,000 acres of forest – vital habitat for the ivory-billed woodpecker…”

Given that the land acquisition is made possible with taxpayer dollars and tax breaks — for who knows what ultimate purposes – you can almost hear the Nature Conservancy laughing like that other fictional woodpecker, Woody Woodpecker, all the way to the bank.

A final note on this saga concerns the reported sightings that were rushed to publication by the journal Science — the same journal that rushed to publication last year’s faked South Korean stem cell studies, and a faked 1997 Tulane University study on environmental chemicals.

While there’s no evidence that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker study was faked, Jackson’s characterization of the report as wishful-thinking certainly doesn’t say much for Science’s peer review process — intended as a safeguard against the publication of unsubstantiated scientific claims and junk science.

Science has enjoyed the reputation of a preeminent journal. But over the last decade, it seems to have developed the print-first-ask-questions-later tendencies usually associated with tabloid publications.

It would be terrific if the Ivory-billed Woodpecker weren’t extinct — but we’ll need better evidence than just four seconds of blurry video hawked by special interests.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and CSRwatch.com, and is an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,183643,00.html

# # #


 

VISIT

 THE PEREGRINE GALLERY

To View More Birds of Prey!

JACK ABRAMOFFHENRY PAULSONGALE NORTON

FAYE KURRENNANCY JOHNSONPETER SAVIO

BRUCE BABBITTBEN BENSONDAVID COLE

HAUNANI APOLIONAJEFF WATANABE

COLBERT MATSUMOTOJAMES WATT

LINDA LINGLEJAMES NICHOLSON

 (…with more to come!)

* * * * *


 

More Nature Sightings from The Catbird Seat:

~ o ~

http://starbulletin.com/2002/03/02/news/index6.html

www.citizenreviewonline.org/july_2003/the_nature.htm

http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=25058

www.nature.org/aboutus/annualreport/files/arfinancials2004.pdf

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/05/264124.shtml

www.ncrp.org/RC_062604-Washingtonpost.asp

www.propertyrightsresearch.org/tncframes.htm

www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2005/07/problems_at_the.html

http://naturenoted.blogspot.com/2005/06/grist-mill-essay.html

http://ataxingmatter.blogs.com/tax/2006/01/the_nature_cons.html

www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1361467/posts

www.independence.net/

 


 

EVEN MORE TO COME


 

 

For further signs of ‘Undue Influence’,
GO TO

/

Allianz…was a deal made with the Devil?

Aloha, Harken Energy!

Birds in the Halls: The University of Hawaii

Birds in the Lobby

British Petroleum: Buzzards in the Pipelines

Broken Trusts

Buzzards of Paradise

Dirty Gold in Goldman Sachs

Dirty Money, Dirty Politics & Bishop Estate

Investigating Investcorp

How to Pluck a Non-Profit

Of Vampires & Daisies

The Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Paradise Paved

Parrots in the Newsroom

NEW >>> Pilakia in Palau <<< NEW

The Pirates of Punaluu

The Puna Connection

The Vultures in Maunawili Valley

The Peregrine Fund

The Ocean Conservancy

Office of the U.S Trustee vs. Harmon

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Vultures up to their beaks in Tesoro Petroleum



 

 

MORE OF THE CATBIRD’S FAVORITE LINKS

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Last Updated on February 10, 2007 by The Catbird

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