BY E.L. EIDOLON
The land preservation and hunting communities both want to preserve
open space, wetlands, and forests, but with major differences in
purpose. The former group wants to protect the land for the health of
the environment and wildlife; the latter group wants to have places to
While hunters are complaining that they have to travel farther and
farther from home to find places where they are welcome, land trusts in
suburban communities work with state and federal agencies, as well as
national organizations such as the Trust for Public Lands, The Nature
Conservancy and/or the National Audubon Society to gain funding for the
preservation of open space in those same areas. Is land preservation a
noble gesture on the part of the agencies and nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs)? In my view, often the grants are to support
A Sept. 29, 2005 press release from TNC’s Arkansas chapter states:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will acquire 1,440
acres of land from The Nature Conservancy to add to the Cache River
National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas – home to the recently rediscovered
Ivory-bill Woodpecker and a host of other wildlife species.
The successful history of conservation in the Big Woods of Arkansas
is a result of great partnerships – federal and state agencies working
organizations, local communities, hunters and landowners, said Scott
Simon, director of The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas. And this addition
to the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge is the latest success story
– one that will add habitat for waterfowl as well as the ivory-bill and
other species that live in these magnificent woods.
The restoration of the entire corridor of the Cache River is
extremely important to the habitat of many wildlife species, not only
the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission director
Henderson said. This purchase gives outdoorsmen more opportunity to
enjoy the natural resources of Arkansas, he added.
Some observers feel that the still unconfirmed Ivory billed
Woodpecker sightings could have been a ploy on the part of TNC and
government agencies to acquire grants and donations for land acquisition
According to an article in the Views section of Fox Online by Steven
Milloy who publishes JunkScience.com and CSRwatch.com, and is an adjunct
scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: “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 Ivorybilled 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, [see
foxnews.com] it seems the Nature Conservancy also stands to benefit substantially from
its own “discovery,” possibly to the tune of $10.2 million federal
and hundreds of thousands of acres in Arkansas.”
Later Milloy adds:
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 ivorybilled woodpecker…’
Opening the land to hunting is highly risky for the Ivory-billed
Woodpecker (if it exists). CNN Science & Technology reported: Logging
and hunting caused the birds’ severe decline to near extinction,
according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Yet TNC “protected” lands, where the Ivory-billed Woodpecker may
(or may not) be, are open to hunting.
In Connecticut, where I head a land trust, TNC has formed The Land
Trust Service Bureau (LTSB).
The TNC website says that “The LTSB works to improve the operational
capabilities of Connecticut land trusts by providing current technical information and offering assistance and guidance….Land trusts protect
natural areas and open space in their local communities.
In Connecticut, there are 115 trusts with more than 39,000 members.
Together they protect over 62,000 acres of valuable open space…. The
LTSB is able to draw on the expertise of The Nature Conservancy staff
who have access to informational resources and extensive experience with
land protection, stewardship and fundraising.”
Part of the program involves offering land trust leaders
“certification.” The program includes a section on how to behave
ethically. TNC sends out chastising notes implying that land trust
officers, not TNC, have been
behaving badly and TNC can help them clear their names. It’s both
laughable and sad considering that favors for their officers included
giving donation status to money actually given by executives for prime
property bought by TNC.
I suggest that you read a Washington Post series on the Nature Conservancy’s way of doing business (David B. Ottaway and Joe
What is infuriating to most land trusts is that they are practically
forced to join the marketing arms of the national groups or they are
ostracized, and state grants may not be available to them because they
are not being “team players.”
Most land trusts are small and cannot afford the insurance policies
by The Nature Conservancy, nor are they told the following:
CONNECTICUT RECREATIONAL USE STATUTE
52-557F TO 52-557I:
A landowner who makes all or any part of the
land available to the public without charge, rent, fee or other
commercial service owes no duty to keep the land, or part thereof so
made available, safe for entry or use by others for recreational
purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity on the land to
persons entering for recreational purposes.
52-557h-Owner liable, when nothing in sections 52-557f to 52-557i,
inclusive, limits in any way the liability of any owner of land which
(1)For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a
dangerous condition, use structure or activity
(2) for injury suffered in a case where the owner of land charges the
person or persons who enter or go on the land for the recreational use
thereof, any consideration received by the owner for the lease shall not
be deemed a charge within the meaning of this section.
(3)52-577i Obligations of user of land Nothing in sections
52-557i, inclusive, shall be construed to relieve any person using the land
of another for recreational purposes from any obligation which he may have in the absence of said sections to exercise care in his use of such
land and in his activities thereon, or from legal consequences of
failure to employ such care.
We suggest that you check your own state’s statutes with regard to
TNC insists you buy from their insurance company which I’ve
found to be higher than others.
Further, you must sign off on their getting your properties should
your trust go out of business.
As someone who cares about wild animals and has given up many
evenings, events, and personal income to support the land trust I head,
I am not only insulted but disgusted, especially as I watch TNC become
more and more an arm of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, using the land
for certain members to go in a field with trained falcons, bows and
arrows, and guns of all kinds. There’s something wrong!
We recently discovered that if a land trust has taken money from the
state to purchase open space, game agencies can demand Sunday hunting on
those properties. What most land trusts don’t realize is that help in
getting funding comes at a price.
What appears to be a “helping hand” from these large groups is often
extended, palms up, to the federal government, which gives them our tax
money. Despite protests that these groups don’t make money on the
acquisitions, they do. It’s just that they no longer think of federal
funding as taxpayer’s money!
States receive federal grants to participate in such acquisitions,
taking not only a fee right off the top, but often demanding the deed
for the property.
Millions of acres are in preservation nationwide, the most recently
targeted areas are coastal wetlands, perfect for hunting waterfowl.
Just one example of how the taxpayer pays for open space is the
following: A generous person in a town bordering the Long Island Sound
recently gave my local land trust 100+ acres and was going to give the
trust another 65 adjacent acres, all free.
Our former town mayor
contacted The Trust for
Public Lands which then offered the donor $1.5 million. The donor
naturally accepted that offer which was paid for by State and Federal
grants, when it could have cost nothing. Of course TPL got their cut, a
To add insult to injury, the land will soon be open to hunting! You
can contact me for more details.
What started out as a well meaning movement to protect our natural
heritage and control sprawl in a world more and more fragmented, has
become a wish list for hunters.
The “open space” we are so proud of wasn’t paid for with the
dwindling hunting license fees or gun money, it was paid for with our
Before the next election, get to know the candidates and the issues.
Your vote is important, your voice is important. Don’t just send in your
tax payments, get involved and be a part of the solution….you have paid
for that right.
Also, get to know where the large environmental groups stand on
hunting in all that “open space” they are “preserving.”
In 2003, Lesli Besgould reported in Act-ion Line of Friends
of Animals: Hunting is bad enough when it is done on private property or
government controlled land, but the offense is even greater when it is
permitted by a non-profit whose very mandate is to protect nature, and
which banks on the public trust, enjoying important tax and other
financial benefits intended to
support its mission.
Well, the cat is out of the bag: As we were going to print, a member
called to tell us about the Autumn 2006 issue of TNC’s magazine. Please
can’t imagine not working with hunters and anglers—our shared values are
too great.” Tom Cassidy, Director of Federal Programs, The Nature
E.L. Eidolon is president of a successful land conservation
that has never used state or federal monies to acquire significant
In the past, Eidolon was vice president of a statewide lake
association, working to clean up pollution and monitor waters, working
with the State Environmental agency. Eidolon’s writings on waterfowl and
the disgraceful condition of the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, and other
heavily-funded, but obviously not working, clean-up programs have
appeared in newspapers throughout the country.
From the ALT website: Deer hunting is the only form of hunting
permitted on ALT lands. (Please see Deer Hunting Rationalization.) This
includes archery and firearms unless otherwise noted. Tree stands can be
used for archery hunting, but only if they are portable and designed to
have no impact to trees. Portable stands must be removed after each use.
Damage to trees by tree stands will not be tolerated. PA Game Law and
local ordinances apply in all cases. Any hunter using ALT lands is
requested to become a member of the Allegheny Land Trust. Hunters are
encouraged to report violations to the Allegheny Land Trust and/or the
PA Game Commission.