Friday, March 28, 2008

Nature Conservancy in Virginia water conflict

A Nature Concervancy attorney is accused of conflict of interest while working for on the opposite side of a battle over water. A Charlottsville Virginia public official "points out that besides serving on the Airport Commission, Edwards is an attorney who works for the Nature Conservancy, the organization most fervently pressing the pipeline/reservoir plan".

Criticism of The Nature Conservancy continues in The Hook newspaper:
"Founded in 1951, the Conservancy shot to fame during the 1970s for its philanthropic approach to saving the environment. Rejecting traditional eco-approaches of bully pulpit (Sierra Club) or colorful demonstration (Greenpeace), the multi-billion-dollar-endowed Conservancy focused instead on simply paying for eco-salvation by purchasing easements on threatened properties and sometimes buying land outright.

But, as revealed by a series of investigative articles in the Washington Post five years ago, that free-market approach veered toward free-wheeling, particularly when the Conservancy made below-market land sales to donors and developers. Today, a chastened Conservancy bills itself as a "science-based" organization.

Such scientific interest is evident locally in the Conservancy's role as architect of the controversial $143 million water plan, which public records show it hopes to use as a national model".

Cashing in on global warming

Cattle Network takes a light-hearted approach to criticizing The Nature Conservancy, poking fun at the way the orgnization is cashing in on environmental concerns about global warming.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Bait and Switch"

Another community falls victim to The Nature Conservancy's real estate development scams in whay one resident calls "bail and switch" in this letter to the editor at

Writing about Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park plans, author Clint Maderos sums it up nicley: "The campground will take out prime agricultural land in Chico (food, people!) and take out more of our county tax base while adding costs. The concerns of neighboring property owners are not being properly addressed. My property rights, property values, and quality of life will be reduced without compensation by this state incursion, all made possible by the hefty "benevolence" of the Nature Conservancy."

Welcome to the club Clint.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Nature Conservancy is No Charity

Green-machine blog wrote today “Some groups are far more efficient than others. The Nature Conservancy, for example, spends just 10 percent of donor contributions on fund raising, while the Sierra Club spends 42 percent, according to the American Institute of Philanthropy.Pope, the Sierra Club director, said it's not a fair comparison. The reason? Donations to the Conservancy and most other environmental groups are tax-deductible -- an important incentive for charitable giving. Contributions to the Sierra Club are not, because it is a political organization, too. "We're not all charities in the same sense," Pope said. "Our average contribution is much, much smaller."”

Gee, do you think so?

Has anybody noticed that the almost $1 billion per year in revenues from land deals makes public donations a tiny and almost irrelevant part of The Nature Conservancy’s financial picture? Apparently Pope was being politically sensitive in his comments but his lack of tenacity does not help people understand the glaring distinction here. TNC is a non-profit, not a charity. One glance at TNC’s financial statement tells you this is an ordinary non-profit organization. TNC is the world’s largest land broker and one of the wealthiest organizations (including all for-profit comapnies) in the world. TNC receives hundreds of millions each year from governments worldwide. Most of its public donations of land are tax-driven as part of wealthy land owners' estate planning, not from the pure goodness of the donor. The Nature Conservancy is not a charity by any stretch of imagination.

Another distinction that should be made is the purpose of the fundraing. Most non-profit organizations raise money in order to financially survive and continue their operations. Not The Nature Conservancy. TNC raises money through highly publicized community activities because it is good PR and especially effective at diverting public attention away from its more significant and controversial financial operations. Fundraising, it turns out, is a great way to create spin. Keep the community fundraising event on the ront page and bury the corruption investigations in the back pages.

The Nature Conservancy’s management has been compared to the world’s most ruthless for-profit corporations yet, these actions are well hidden behind the parade of public fundraising by the do-gooders across America.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nature Conservancy Sells land in NY

Television channel 13 (CHAM) in Albany NY reported on 3/19/08 that The Nature Conservancy has sold more than 15,000 acres of rural land in New York State to private owners this month for $1.2 million. No information was available on the profit made by The Nature Conservancy on the land deal nor whether taxpayer funds had been previously been used to acquire the property. The Nature Conservancy is under fire worldwide for selling land that had been donated or purchased with taxpayer funds to private and commercial entities at substantial profits. Worldwide revenues from land deals topped $1.3 billion in 2007 making The Nature Conservancy the world’s largest real estate broker.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Scandal

A well-orchestrated scam by The Nature Conservancy was documented by Fox News in an article titles “Woodpecker Racket?” after it was discovered that the organization made over $10 million windfall on recovery efforts for the extinct Ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas. The article says that The Nature Conservancy almost got away with the scheme in 2004-2006 until “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” in early 2006. Still, the Nature Conservancy reaped $10.2 million in federal taxpayer funds for the conservation project that were originally intended for a more meaningful purpose.

The event led at least one blogger to conclude “The Nature Conservancy is a Fraud”.

Certainly The Nature Conservancy has become an expert in converting our knee-jerk responses to preserve the environment into wealth for its own coffers. The Nature Conservancy collected over $1.3 billion in revenue in 2007 and spent only about ¼ of this on environmental programs. Until the public realizes the long pattern of corruption, scandal and social manipulation ingrained within The Nature Conservancy’s corporate management, we will continue to be duped by the organization’s “do good” outward appearance.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

copycat uses The Nature Conservancy strategies to bilk taxpayers

Other so-called environmentlist are catching on to the financial tactics used by The Nature Conservancy to rake in some profits for themselves. Not surprisingly, The Nature Conservancy criticixes other who who the same land brad and development rechnigues that they pioneered wordwide into a multi-billion dollar fortune.

The Baltime Sun reports about a land deal completed a few years ago "Two years ago, the Horseys partnered with David Sutherland and his land-preservation company, the U.S. Land Alliance, to buy a property known as the Kudner farm in Grasonville for $20 million. Last year, U.S. Land Alliance sold a 271-acre piece of the farm to the state and Queen Anne's County for $5 million. The deal generated controversy because the price was higher than two state appraisals and because Sutherland, who used to work for a nonprofit land-conservation group, had served on Gov. Martin O-Malley's transition team. "

This deal has it all - overlapping management, insider deals, overinflated sales at taxpayer expense - all trademarks of The Nature Conservancy. But God forbid anyone else try the same - simply blast them on the destructive effects on the environment.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Nature Conservancy turns to Social Media to Spin Public Opinion

Faced with mounting criticism of its corporate policies, greedy financial operations, and declining use of outdoor recreational facilities, The Nature Conservancy has turned to a new media for gaining public support: social media. The Internet is a powerful tool for reaching young adults who embrace the concept of environmental conservation yet may have little experience in land management or municipal finance. This age group is likely to be more friendly toward The Nature Conservancy based on its environmental programs. These people are less likely to be aware that environmental programs are a minor portion of The Nature Conservancy’s overall operation that primarily generates its $1.3 billion annual revenue from land brokerage and deals with for-profit companies. Users of Web sites like Facebook, Digg and Stumbleupon are more likely to be impressed with the popular opinion of The Nature Conservancy among their peers and less affected by adverse opinions of the organization expressed in mainstream news media.

The efforts are paying off, according to an interview with marketer Jonathon Colman. The Nature Conservancy has become a leading expert in using the Internet’s social media to spin public opinion and market the world’s most powerful non-profit organization.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bake Sale for The Nature Conservancy

This past week U.S. newspapers reported a handful of fundraising efforts to benefit The Nature Conservancy, ranging from art exhibit with a dinner to a community bake sale. Clearly this is a win/win effort. The Nature Conservancy benefits from the positive media publicity and the particants benefit from the feeling of having done something worthwile to help preserve our natural environment. Yet the stated financial impact of these efforts is negibible. The Nature Conservancy is one of the largest and most profitable organizations in the world. with $1.3 billion in revenue in 2007. The Nature Conservancy's revenue is already three times more than it needed to fund all of its worldwide programs. Unlike many non-profit organizations, its revenues do not come primarily from donations, but rather primarily from profits on real estate transactions in selling land back to taxpayers at inflated prices. In fact, The Nature Conservancy is by far the largest and most profitable real estate broker in the the world.

If The Nature Conservancy does not need the revenues from a community bake sale, then why are such intensive efforts put into organizing and publicizing such charitable community events? The Nature Conservancy is well aware of the value of media attention and public opinion and employs an large staff of PR and marketing experts specifically to cultivate this favorable public image. It may cost them thousands of dollars in marketing to promote a community finction that raises a few hundred dollars, but the larger value to TNC is the positive pubic image that it wants to cultivate, however misleading it may be.

The well-intentioned people behind these local fundraising efforts are likely not aware of the financial operations of The Nature Conservancy. It is hard to believe that the public would make charitable efforts to support The Nature Conservancy is they were aware of the full scope of this $100+ billion money-making empire. If these local artists and bakers could see the larger picture, they may well feel that they have been "used" and duped by The Nature Conservancy. Certainly there are plenty of non-profit organizations in need and deserving of the community's financial support, but The Nature Conservancy is not one of them.

For more information, see the financial report of The Nature Conservancy published on its Web site at

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

TNC brokers most expensive debt for land deal

The Nature Conservancy served as a broker of a land deal between the United States and the Costa Rican government that is called the most expensive debt swap deal ever at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. The Costa Rica government owed a debt of $26 million to the U.S. that was forgiven in turn for a pledge to prevent development in the rain forest. While nobody argues that preserving the rain forest is a worthwhile goal and some people think this is a great idea (see

The kicker on this deal is that the U.S. taxpayers will also fund the conservation project managed by The Nature Conservancy for the next 16 years. No information was available on how much The Nature Conservancy earned on the brokerage transaction or how much their fees will be for the ongoing management of the project. The Nature Conservancy is the world’s richest non-profit organization due to its success in arranging these profitable deals at the expense of governments and ultimately its taxpayers.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

massive land purchases creates hostility

The Nature Conservancy has attracted billions of dollars of private money from wealthy people and World Bank environment cash to buy or lease national parks and tracts of land in poor countries around the world. The Nature Conservancy is then allowed to collect money for property use, employ police, build hotels and, in many cases, dictate how land inside the parks should be used, and even whether communities can live or hunt there. This causes hostility among the people who live there. Some foreign governments that eventually caught on to the long term effects of this type of massive land sale and denounce these actions as "eco-colonialism".


Wednesday, March 5, 2008 condemns The Nature Conservancy

The article at at is a well researched and well written indictment of The Nature Conservancy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

"How to Bilk Taxpayers 101"

The Nature Conservancy helps Florida municipal governments like Santa Rosa County bill taxpayers for $1.8 billion for over half a million acres in Florida. See the story at This is a dream come true for local government officials whose ambitious career dreams of domination are bounded only the petty coffers of their community budgets.

There is absolutely no doubt that The Nature Conservancy is the "go to guy" when it comes to preparing grant applications for public funds to acquire land. They have made billions of dollars in these deals and have the very best political resources that money can buy.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Nature Conservancy violates non-profit laws

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigated The Nature Conservancy for assisting trustees and insude managers to profit from land deals brokered by the nation's largest non-profit real estate organization. During the Senate investigation The Nature Conservancy's president admitted receiving a $1.5 million dollar mortgage at a minimal interest rate. Although this violation and other admissions clearly violated laws regarding non-profit organizations, The Nature Conservancy was allowed to continue operating with its non-profit status.

See a discussion of the investigation in this law firm's newsletter:

IRS fails to stop The Nature Conservancy

The IRS audited The Nature Conservancy following Congressional outrage to land deal schemes reported by the Washington Post in 2003, but the audit did not result in a repeal of the non-profit status of the TNC as many had expected. By late 2005, the powerful attorneys of The Nature Conservancy announced that the billions of profits on land deals would remain tax free. To this day, every dollar of profit in real estate brokerage and development made by The Nature Conservancy is exempt from tax simple because the stated purpose of the organization is tax exempt.

How it all begins

See the harmless article at that shows how it all begins. Who would suspect that The Nature Conservancy is positioning to aquire distressed land in Alberta, sell off the timber and drilling rights and then sell the back to public agencies at an inflated price. All in the name of conservation!

FOR SALE - Lodge in TN

FOR SALE - New Real Estate listing from The Nature Conservancy

Peaceful retreat in the heart of a 100-acre nature preserve. Property includes a 4,000-square-foot furnished lodge with five bedrooms, each with private bath; a two-bedroom partially renovated cabin; hiking trails; and a fishing pond. $239,900.

Surrounding farmland has already been sold by The Nature Conservancy to a commercial farmer. Previously the Dungannon Development Commission, a private management firm, handled the rental of the lodge but now a new provate owner is sought. See more information about the sale of Rikemo Lodge at

Some people continue to refuse to acknowledge that The Nature Conservancy is one of the world's largest and most powerful developers and real estate agents.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Staten Island CA land deal scandal

California Assemblyman Bill Maze is leading the charge to request that the U.S. Attorney’s office investigate a shady 9,200 acre land deal at Staten Island. The California state auditor found serious problems with the deal. The state auditors most recent report dated February 21, 2008 blasted the state agency that awards this type of grant is published at, following an investigation and previous report in 2007. The audit found problems with the appraisal that shifted the bill to taxpayers and created unreasonable profit for The Nature Conservancy.

Maze is also concerned as to why California taxpayers should pay the bloated price. "It is unclear to me why The Nature Conservancy, which has over $4 billion in assets and made over $1 billion in revenue last year worldwide, needed grants by the taxpayers of California to purchase the island”. The state legislature is learning the hard way and perhaps too late, that The Nature Conservancy is powerfully efficient at manipulating state-sponsored programs for its own benefit. See more at

Unfortunately, such sly maneuvers are standard tactics for The Nature Conservancy, as other municipal governments across the U.S. and around the world have learned the hard way for decades.