Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Monday, January 17, 2005

Clean Hands

I've been harping for my short time on my little soapbox here about the need for land trusts to make sure that they play fair with conservation easements. It's easy for me to say it, I don't have anything invested in it other than a hobbyist's interest. Jon Christensen in Conservation in Practice makes the same case much more cogently than I have. And Jon's magazine gets some of its funding from The Nature Conservancy, so he has a bit more invested in this. Jon looks at the recent ruckus stirred up by the Washington Post's series on TNC and its follow-up on the Land Trust Alliance and new rules to regulate conservation easements. Jon's take....
"Overall, the Post's article did not reveal anything that people inside the land trust movement haven't known and haven't been talking about for some time. The surprise is how shocking it all looks when it's brought out into the light of public scrutiny. That is something conservationists are going to have to learn to live with. Scrutiny is one of the surest signs that conservation has become a mainstream player.
The survival of conservation easements as a tool for protecting habitat on private lands will depend on the ability of land trusts to sort out the conflicts, clean house, and articulate the public interest in helping landowners, some of them filthy rich, to preserve their land—and their wealth. From the looks of the Post article, they're not off to a good start".

Jon does go on to make the point that investigative journalism misses many of the nuances, but latches on to the bad practices. And having overseen many investigative stories, I would say that's a fair point. But the main point here is that trusts have to be prepared for increased scrutiny. Nobody pays any attention to the small fry. But with the large amounts of money flowing into trusts from government, business and individuals... the spotlight is only going to get brighter.
Speaking of the big bucks... Here's another article on the "friendly rivalry" to land the headquarters of the new Sierra Nevada Conservancy.
Finally, thanks to Earth-Info-Net for linking Nature Noted.


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