The Nature Conservancy



Introduction


The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a very wealthy environmental group that owns enormous amounts of land worldwide. The Nature Conservancy amassed its wealth largely by selling memberships, accepting corporate donations and engaging in land deals.


History / Mission


Founded in 1951,[1] the Nature Conservancy is said to be “the largest and wealthiest environmental organization in the United States.”[2] Its self-described mission is to “to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends,” with the goal of leaving "a sustainable world for future generations."[3]

According to its website, the Nature Conservancy operates in 35 countries and all 50 states.[4] As of 2011, the Nature Conservancy’s net assets totaled more than $6 billion and its 2011 total revenue was $949,123,306.[5]


Work


The Nature Conservancy has worked to preserve National Parks. For example, according to its website, it has donated management responsibility for 27,000 acres of Great Sand Dunes National Park to the National Park Service, and plans to donate the lands outright to the NPS at a future date.[6]

The Nature Conservancy also organizes campaigns and mobilizes members to support its conservation initiatives. For example, the Nature Conservancy’s “Plant A Billion Trees Campaign” is an effort to restore 2.5 million acres of land and plant one billion trees by 2015 in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.[7] Each dollar donated, the Nature Conservancy says, results in one planted tree.[8]


Criticism


Losing its Mission:

The Nature Conservancy considers itself to be “the world's best conservation science organization,”[9] and it claims to have 550 professional scientists on its staff.[10] However, some Nature Conservancy scientists have complained that the organization has failed to keep its commitment to the “best available science.”[11] According to the Washington Post, in an internal 2001 Conservancy study, one TNC scientist wrote: “Science is not understood or supported by senior managers and state directors. [The] entire focus is on land deals.”[12]

Land Deals:

According to R.J. Smith, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, the Nature Conservancy bullies private citizens from their land in order to sell that land to the federal government. Smith explains:[13]
The Nature Conservancy is one of the most feared environmental groups throughout rural America … While promoting itself as a ‘private’ conservation group, small landowners, family farmers, ranchers and tree farmers know it as a strong-arm real estate agent for the federal government. It acquires land at fire-sale prices from landowners bankrupted by environmental regulations, then turns around and sells most of it to the federal government at inflated prices. The last thing America needs is more range and forest land for the federal government to mismanage and burn down.

Ties with Corporate America:

In 2002, the Capital Research Center named the Nature Conservancy one of the top ten non-profit recipients of corporate contributions.[14] Corporate donations to the Nature Conservancy increased from $1.8 million in 1993 to $225 million by 2002.[15] In 2003, the Nature Conservancy had over 1,900 corporate sponsors.[16] The Nature Conservancy has received funding from oil companies such as British Petroleum, Phillips Alaska and Exxon Mobil.[17] General Motors has also been a major donor.[18]

In 2003, the Washington Post reported that Nature Conservancy had sold or rented its logo to be used for goods manufactured by its corporate donors.[19] For example, General Mills has used the Nature Conservancy logo on its Nature Valley granola bars.[20]

David Morine, the former head of TNC’s land acquisition program and, according to the Washington Post, one of the TNC executives who helped the group develop corporate ties, told the Post in 2003 that “[I]t was the wrong decision to get so close to industry. Business got in under the tent, and we (TNC) are the ones who invited them in.”[21] Morine added, “[t]hese corporate executives are carnivorous. You bring them in, and they just take over.”[22]

Land Development:

Many environmentalists oppose commercial and residential land development.[23] The Nature Conservancy, however, has had close ties with Centex Corp., a large residential construction firm.[24] Centex has provided free Nature Conservancy memberships to thousands of its homebuyers.[25] This arrangement has yielded more than a million dollars for the Nature Conservancy.[26]

In the past, the Nature Conservancy has also been close with two of the nation’s biggest tree consumers, the Georgia-Pacific Corp. and International Paper Co.[27] Georgia-Pacific, then a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange,[28] donated $3 million to TNC in 2000.[29] In 1998, International Paper Co. sold 185,000 acres of Maine forest to TNC for $35 million.[30] Shortly after the exchange, TNC logged 136,000 of the original 185,000 acres in order “to help offset costs.”[31]

Interconnected Dealings:

A 2003 Washington Post report uncovered interconnected deals between the Nature Conservancy and its leadership. The report stated:[32]
The charity engages in numerous financial transactions with members of the Conservancy family -- governing board members and their companies, state and regional trustees, longtime supporters. The nonprofit organization has bought land and services from board members’ companies, and it has declined to release property appraisals from the deals. It has sold choice Conservancy land to past and present trustees through its “conservation buyers” program, which offers steep discounts in exchange for development restrictions. It has lent cash to its executives, including $1.55 million to its president.

A month after the Washington Post uncovered the Nature Conservancy’s dealings, TNC’s board “said it would end the practice of buying or selling land along with board members, trustees and employees, to avoid any conflict of interest.”[33]

Oil, Gas and Pigs:

In 1999, the Nature Conservancy drilled for oil and natural gas on a wildlife preserve in Texas City, Texas.[34] Some endangered birds on the preserve were killed.[35] Mobil had given TNC the land with the expectation that TNC would protect the wildlife.[36] Immediately after the incident was disclosed, TNC suspended what it called its “resource extraction activities.”[37]

In 2005, the Nature Conservancy supported an initiative to eradicate wild pigs living on Santa Cruz Island off the southern coast of California.[38] The slaughtering of pigs was done to protect an endangered fox species.[39] The situation angered animal rights groups and “forced the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy, which co-own the land, to explain why groups dedicated to protecting animals instead paid $5 million to kill them.”[40] The Nature Conservancy’s project director Lotus Vermeer explained, “[i]t’s not just about killing pigs, it’s about saving a native species… What we’re choosing to do here is save biodiversity.”[41]


Funding


According to Discover the Networks, “[b]etween 2001 and 2004, TNC received more than 1,200 grants from scores of liberal charitable foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Blue Moon Fund, the ChevronTexaco Foundation, the Columbia Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Foundation for Deep Ecology, the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Prospect Hill Foundation, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Simons Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Turner Foundation.”[42]


Leadership (as of June 2013)


Mark R. Tercek, President (2011 Compensation: $590,738)
Roger Milliken, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Directors
Gordon Crawford, Vice Chair
Roberto Hernandez Ramirez, Vice Chair
Steven Howell, Chief Financial Officer (2011 Compensation: $388,943)
Phil Tabas, General Counsel (2011 Compensation: $303,437)
Joseph Keenan, Regional Director (2011 Compensation: $464,956)
Brian MkPeek, Chief Operating Officer (2011 Compensation: $353,776)


Contact Information


The Nature Conservancy
4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22203-1606
Phone: (703) 841-5300
Web: http://www.nature.org/


The National Center For Public Policy Research publishes GroupSnoop. The National Center is a non-profit communications and research foundation that supports free-market and pro-Constitution approaches to today’s policy problems. The National Center is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, receiving less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated!

For more information about the National Center For Public Policy Research, please visit our website, or read our blog. To sign up for our email list, go here.

To make suggestions, corrections or to give feedback, please email us.

  1. ^ “Our History,” The Nature Conservancy, available at http://www.nature.org/aboutus/visionmission/history/index.htmas of June 26, 2013.
  2. ^ “The Nature Conservancy,” Discover the Networks, available at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7221as of June 26, 2013.
  3. ^ “About Us – Vision and Mission,” The Nature Conservancy, available at http://www.nature.org/aboutus/visionmission/index.htm as of June 26, 2013.
  4. ^ “About Us – Vision and Mission,” The Nature Conservancy, available at http://www.nature.org/aboutus/visionmission/index.htmas of June 26, 2013.
  5. ^ Information retrieved from Guidestar on June 26, 2013.
  6. ^ “Colorado – Baca Ranch,” The Nature Conservancy, available at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/colorado/placesweprotect/san-luis-valley-baca-ranch.xml as of June 26, 2013.
  7. ^ “Plant a Billion Trees,” The Nature Conservancy, available at http://www.plantabillion.org/as of June 26, 2013.
  8. ^ “Plant a Billion Trees,” The Nature Conservancy, available at http://www.plantabillion.org/ as of June 26, 2013.
  9. ^ “Our Science,” The Nature Conservancy, available at http://www.nature.org/ourscience/index.htmas of June 26, 2013.
  10. ^ “Our Science,” The Nature Conservancy, available at http://www.nature.org/ourscience/index.htmas of June 26, 2013.
  11. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  12. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  13. ^ Robert Bluey, “Paulson Pick Goes From Bad to Worse,” Human Events, May 30, 2006, available at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=15275 as of June 26, 2013.
  14. ^ “The Nature Conservancy,” Discover the Networks, available at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7221as of June 26, 2013.
  15. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  16. ^ “Hearings - Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure Hearing: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers role in the nation’s water resource needs in the 21st century,” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, March 31, 2004, available at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Testimony&Hearing_ID=f4a75a5f-802a-23ad-4f47-97b4370970d6&Witness_ID=39843a83-5ea3-40b4-9a69-ec3433c2f82eas of June 26, 2013.
  17. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  18. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  19. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  20. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  21. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  22. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  23. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  24. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  25. ^ “Centex Homes Renews Commitment to Nature Conservancy Mission to Preserve Natural Lands and Habitat,” Business Insider, April 4, 2000, available at http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml;jsessionid=DQAJMXLO52LHBLAQBQ4CGW15AAAACI2F?id=1100153 as of June 27, 2013.
  26. ^ “Centex Homes Renews Commitment to Nature Conservancy Mission to Preserve Natural Lands and Habitat,” Business Insider, April 4, 2000, available at http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml;jsessionid=DQAJMXLO52LHBLAQBQ4CGW15AAAACI2F?id=1100153 as of June 27, 2013.
  27. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  28. ^ Georgia-Pacific has changed ownership, becoming privately-held in December 2005.
  29. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  30. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  31. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  32. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  33. ^ “In Wake of Criticism, Nature Conservancy Changes Policies,” New York Times, June 14, 2003, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/14/national/14CND-NATU.html?ex=1202792400&en=2768c996817e11fc&ei=5070 as of June 27, 2013.
  34. ^ “The Nature Conservancy,” Discover the Networks, available at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7221as of June 27, 2013.
  35. ^ David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2003, available at
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html as of June 26, 2013.
  36. ^ “The Nature Conservancy,” Discover the Networks, available at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7221as of June 27, 2013.
  37. ^ “The Nature Conservancy,” Discover the Networks, available at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7221 as of June 27, 2013.
  38. ^ Gillian Flaccus, “Conservationists Kill Wild Pigs to Save Fox on Island off Southern California,” Associated Press, May 2, 2005, available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7708293/ns/us_news-environment/t/wild-pigs-killed-save-endangered-fox/#.TmoSH3OrXCYas of June 27, 2013.
  39. ^ Gillian Flaccus, “Conservationists Kill Wild Pigs to Save Fox on Island off Southern California,” Associated Press, May 2, 2005, available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7708293/ns/us_news-environment/t/wild-pigs-killed-save-endangered-fox/#.TmoSH3OrXCYas of June 27, 2013.
  40. ^ Gillian Flaccus, “Conservationists Kill Wild Pigs to Save Fox on Island off Southern California,” Associated Press, May 2, 2005, available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7708293/ns/us_news-environment/t/wild-pigs-killed-save-endangered-fox/#.TmoSH3OrXCYas of June 27, 2013.
  41. ^ Gillian Flaccus, “Conservationists Kill Wild Pigs to Save Fox on Island off Southern California,” Associated Press, May 2, 2005, available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7708293/ns/us_news-environment/t/wild-pigs-killed-save-endangered-fox/#.TmoSH3OrXCY as of June 27, 2013.
  42. ^ “Nature Conservancy,” Discover the Networks, available at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7221 as of June 27, 2013.