Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Nature Conservancy as an energy broker

The article at points out the pros and cons of drilling for gas and oil on America's protected lands.

One thing that appears clear is that The Nature Conservancy has quite a financial windfall after gathering these lands at rock-bottom prices, gaining funding from public sources and now owing the land on top of the largest energy reserves in North America.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

TNC clashes with Hawaii constitution

The state constitution provides hunting rights for native Hawaiians on state lands. Article 12, Section 7 on the Hawaiian Constitution says "The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahaupua’a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the State to regulate such rights." TNC manages much of the native Hawaiian land on Molokai and is taking additional conservation programs that concern local residents.

Locals questioned how TNC was going to work to protect native Hawaiian gathering rights. It is not surprising that they are getting little of no information from The Nature Conservancy about its plans. TNC's mission would appear to be in direct opposition to the state constitution on this issue. Given TNC's history of bullyiny tactics, the residents have good reason to be concerned that their rights will be trampled.


Protecting developers from falling land prices

The Nature Conservancy provides a financial parachute for commercial developers who purchased land but then found that declining real estate markets made commercial development impossible. While American homeowners have to suffer the full effects of recent real estate price corrections, developers find that land trusts are eager buyers to bail them out of financial blunders. See the Wall Street Journal article May 9, 2008 at

Cristina Mestre of The Nature Conservancy is quoted as saying that as a result of the market drop TNC is being approached en masse to buy development rights from owners of large tracts of land. These conservation easements are a relatively new tool in the real estate industry and there are both positives and negatives to consider from the perspective of public policy.