Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Connecting Conservation Easements to The Wildlands Project
- with a little help from PRR, Google and amazingly, Amazon.com!

June 15, 2004


By Julie Kay Smithson



Simply visit the Conservation Easements button at my website http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org/coneaefrms.htm for a comprehensive amount of information.


There are seventeen articles there, for this year alone; click on the 2002-2003 archives (located just below the title at the above URL/website address) and get 58 more, for a total of 75 articles that will give the group a vast resource with which to counter all that's 'out there' trying to sell the "conservation easement" concept to landowners.


The hook that entices private landowners to fall for conservation easements is thickly and tastily baited and pitched by land trusts and other "conservation" and/or "environmental" groups who "fish" for some of your property rights.


"The Landowner's Guide To Conservation Easements" is a 2000 publication of the American Farm Bureau Federation, and frankly, falls far short of adequately warning the landowner of the hook within the bait.


USDA's Economic Research Service has a 68-page downloadable document entitled "Partial Interests in Land: Policy Tools for Resource Use and Conservation," [authored by Keith Wiebe, Abebayehu Tegene, and Betsey Kuhn] which explains how government is using conservation easements as an alternative to regulation or outright purchase to protect riparian areas and other areas. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/ 

Front Matter, 18kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744fm.pdf, Introduction, 9kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744a.pdf, Partial Interests in Land, 30kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744b.pdf,

Partial Interests in Three Policy Settings, 526kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744c.pdf, Markets for Partial Interests in Land, 43kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744d.pdf, Valuation of Partial Interests in Land, 51kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744e.pdf,

Lessons for Resource Use and Conservation Policy, 11kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744f.pdf, References, 28kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744rf.pdf, Appendix, 12 kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744ap.pdf, Index, 24kb http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AER744/aer744in.pdf. Order this report (stock #ERSAER744) http://www.ers.usda.gov/AboutERS/Sales/index.asp?pdt=2&pid=1063. USDA Order Desk at 1-800-999-6779 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday, except Federal holidays. Main website: http://www.ers.usda.gov/ (a search at this USDA Economic Research Service site for "conservation easements" garners 1,571 results...) Source: http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/river/pdf/rivsp99nl.pdf


Please bear with me and give this next lengthy paragraph a thoughtful read, because -- while it may not focus on the part of America where you live -- it is what is planned to happen, and how it is to happen, nationwide.


"A Proposal for Wilderness-Based Ecosystem Protection" - Bader (1991, 1990) describes a wilderness-based reserve network for the U.S. Northern Rockies. This system has been introduced in legislative form as The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, H.R. 488 ... This network makes use of four essential elements of reserve design identified by Noss (1992). These are cores, buffers, corridors and restoration. This proposed network, with its 74,415 km of new wilderness designations, would help provide for connectivity through designated linkage corridors, where road densities would be reduced [read on -- this will be explained]. Over 2,896 km (1,800 miles) of wild and scenic river designations would maintain connectivity for bull trout and other migratory fish species [no mention of "threatened" or "endangered" status whatsoever]. One new national park and preserve area is proposed, and another would be studied for suitability. Another provision is a pilot system of wilderness recovery areas (WRAs) totalling 4,030 km (1,556 mi.), where the process of restoring wilderness habitat, vegetation and low road-density conditions via road closures and obliteration would begin. The designations are designed to work in concert to achieve ecosystem protection and total 95,705 km (36,953 mi.); when added to existing wilderness and national park areas these would total 140,000 km (54,054 mi.), approximately equal to the minimum area requirements [MARs] for grizzly bears. However, federal legislation cannot provide comprehensive protection for all grizzly bear habitat, and many migratory corridors pass through nonfederal lands where wilderness designation is not an option. But this network would protect the core grizzly bear habitat area and virtually all bull trout strongholds, and key habitat areas would be recovered. The appropriate scale for capturing broader scale environmental phenomena may be 10-15 and as much as 50-100 times [larger than] the largest disturbance patch (Shugart and West 1981). Wildfires burned 10,460 km (4,039 mi.), in the northern Rockies in 1988 (National Interagency Fire Center 1999)[here's the 'fire' piece of the puzzle]. Therefore, the total minimum dynamic area [MDA] (Pickett and Thompson 1978) could be 104,606-156,909 km (40,390-60,585 mi.) and potentially > 5 x 10 km. The proposed network falls within the range of the lower figures. Since the northern Rockies are home to other wide-ranging species, including carnivores such as wolves (Canis lupus) that may have minimum area requirements up to 38,849 km (15,000 mi.) exclusive of corridors (Bader 1991), these figures indicate that large landscapes are required to effect ecosystem protection in the U.S. northern Rockies. This strategy is designed to work in concert with other efforts, including fish passage proposals, litigation, species listings, conservation easements on private lands and methods to facilitate wildlife movements across major highway and rail corridors, to name a few. Economic studies by Garrity (1997) and Power (1992) concluded this network can be implemented at a net savings to taxpayers, and with minimal impact on timber industry employment [which they intend to be zero shortly, so of course there'd be a "minimal impact" on a dead industry]. Source (Page 9 from the 12-page document titled, "Wilderness-Based Ecosystem Protection in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States, by Mike Bader. Each of the twelve pages is marked at the bottom: "USDA Forest Service Proceedings RMRS-P-15-VOL-2. 2000 http://www.wilderness.net/library/documents/Bader_2-13.pdf


A quick search at Amazon.com for books with the words "Conservation Easements" in their title and/or description garnered 1,111 results, so you can readily see that CEs are a for-profit, land control enterprise skillfully couched in language deception. CE salesmen go beyond the offerings of $$$ to landowners to "protect" their land -- while robbing them of their ability to develop that land (even to the point of the landowners' children/grandchildren losing their chance to build homes on the land decades later) -- many "easements" are perpetual, i.e., forever.


Please note that this 'land trust' uses conservation easements expressly for wilderness, i.e., Wildlands:


New Wilderness Land Trust Founded: "The vast majority of land in the northeastern United States is in private or corporate ownership. With public lands relatively scarce, the best opportunities for protecting wilderness are often on private lands through private means. A new land trust -- the Northeast Wilderness Trust -- has been formed to help advance such opportunities, and is the only regional land trust focused exclusively on restoring and protecting wilderness areas. A member-supported nonprofit, the Northeast Wilderness Trust can hold title or “forever wild” conservation easements on land in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Wildlands Project Director of Education Tom Butler serves on the founding board of directors, along with conservationists from around the region. For information, contact info@newildernesstrust.org or visit www.newildernesstrust.org". Source (which is a part of The Wildlands Project): http://www.twp.org/inside_wp/news.html


My website also has an extensive Wildlands Project button: http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org/wildlndsprjctfrms.htm


I would be remiss if I withheld the fact that there are also 863 books currently available at Amazon.com that contain in their title and/or description the phrase "Wildlands Project."


Here's just one: Repairing Damaged Wildlands: A Process-Oriented, Landscape-Scale Approach, by Steven G. Whisenant, S. Whisenant.


The phrase "Landscape-Scale Approach" is your clue that the intent is to take control of all land and water and all resources. I hope this does not sound "conspiracy theory" related, because this is no theory; it is a full-fledged agenda.


So far today, I've heard from a rancher on the TX-Mexico border who has just learned what's planned for her ranch:


'"It's heeerrrre! Heard from our farmers yesterday. They received a notice from the IBWC (International Boundary & Water Commission) and the USACE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) that these agencies are planning an easement along the river border. Various agreements within the Final Biological Opinion, available at http://www.ibwc.state.gov/EMD/LRGFCP/FinalBO_6_03.pdf, show the IBWC, along with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has had these plans in place since 1996. In the signed agreement between these two entities, in exchange for letting the IBWC do its mowing operations to keep the Rio Grande River flowing and posing a lesser threat at flood times, USFWS has agreed that it will acquire 75 feet inland from water's edge for a cleared and mowed area -- and an additional 33' area to be vegetated and used for the wildlife corridor -- all called a “conservation easement”. All landowners are expected to comply with this agreement that they made with each other -- and to give up a 108-foot wide corridor that is on their land that borders the Rio Grande River. That's a mighty lot of land! There will be a public hearing at the end of the month. Though the targeted area is for the whole county, only two farmers are involved -- the rest of the land is already in the hands of environmentalists. In the notice letter, which only one farmer has received, no information was given other than notice of the meeting, the existence of the 2003 Biological Opinion, and that, should anyone have questions, they can call the real estate division of the IBWC. In other words, they expect complete compliance to a deal that is already done, the ink dry, the agenda in place. This is only the first step in plans that have already been formalized for land grabs in our area. To know that your 'neighbors' covet your land and possessions, and that they make quiet plans to take them from you, is awfully hard to live with on a daily basis, especially when one of those neighbors comes to your house and tells you how much he likes it and that he would like to live here. I told him that I like it, too, that I love living here and don't ever want to sell or move out. He just smiled. People can be so cruel. Heard from another gal today who has family elsewhere in the state. She said "they" are

taking land right and left up there and the residents have given up and given in, for they feel there is no way to fight these so-called ‘justified’ land grabs touted as being "for the good of the people and for future generations." I've given her your site before; I gave it to her again today. I think, this time, she'll look it up." Come, Lord Jesus, come!'"


 -- and a Missouri resident (with an adult disabled daughter; this great mom fears that, in the case of a 'prescribed burn' gone awry, she might not be able to get her daughter out) who's just learned what's in store for a multi state area that includes her home and land:


"ALL: KINDLY READ BETWEEN THE LINES HERE ... we in the Ozarks are now officially in deep bandini ... please pray for us. I will do what I can to keep us in the public eye, whatever good that does ... the propaganda has now begun... Forest Service/Others to "Protect" Ozarks 



All this, and over a dozen other states. Gang Greed has come out of the closet, and the coveted prize is our land, water and freedom.


All these threads are intricately interwoven. They are the fabric of a massive change being wrought in America (and the world) if we do not see and protect our rights ASAP! If I had the money, I could hire a full-time staff of fifty people -- and keep each of them busy -- on the property rights issues that I field, on my own, each and every day. It is a noxious weed with deep, deep roots that must be dug out.


Connecting the two phrases together is part of the Red Flags that fly whenever I read or hear about "conservation easements", "restrictive covenants" and the like. Please see the short list of 6 books here and consider the implications:




All 6 results for "Conservation Easements" "Wildlands Project" :




Conservation Geography
by Charles L. Convis (Paperback - June 2001) 

Usually ships in 24 hours

List Price:



Buy new:





Excerpt from page 50 "... the projector to the Sierra Club, EarthJustice Legal Defense, American Wildlands, Yellowstone to Yukon, and other conservation groups. In October of 1998, ... landowners, the use of conservation easements and other incentives, and ... options. The results of this project are guiding conservationists and land managers where to focus their ..."



on Page 51:

"... Our Northern Rockies Conservation Area Design approach is based on habitat suitability models of ... other grassroots conservation groups throughout the region such as American Wildlands, the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, the Ecology Center, and others. ... of the advances we have made in our various conservation projects and the capacity building we have accomplished in our organization ... incorporated into agency land management policy, private land stewardship and easements, and public attitudes toward maintaining regional reserves on this grand scale. The ultimate test will be how many of the ..."


on Page 94:

"... American Wildlands ** American Wildlands Lauren Oechsli, GIS specialist loechsli@wildlands.org Linda Bowers ... GIS lab manager American Wildlands (AWL) http://www.wildlands.org is a science-based nonprofit conservation organization with a 22-year history of wilderness legislation and natural ... Management US Forest Service (Montana Big Sky Lumber Conservation Easement Roadless Areas American Wildlands AWL GIS ... American Wildlands. Whether on land, with our Corridors of Life project and roadless area protection efforts, or by water, with the WCT [Western Cutthroat Trout] campaign and watershed protection program, American Wildlands is taking ..."




Wild Earth: Wild Ideas for a World Out of Balance
by Tom Butler (Paperback )

Usually ships in 24 hours

List Price:



Buy new:





Excerpt from page 83 "... the "received wilderness idea, "and they are exactly what the Wildlands Project is about today: Ecosystem representation. Cores. Corridors. Carnivores. Aldo Leopold ..."



The Book of the Everglades
by Susan Cerulean (Paperback

Usually ships in 1 to 2 weeks

List Price:



Buy new:






Excerpt from page 167 "... respected philanthropic organization, chose Noss as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and Environment, and granted him ... Sunshine State [Florida] exemplifies how the Wildlands Project might work nationwide. Noss's map ... agencies or secured through conservation easements and management agreements. Where corridors cut across roads, the roads ..." 




Bring Back the Buffalo!: A Sustainable Future for America's Great Plains
by Ernest Callenbach (Paperback
Other Editions: Hardcover | Paperback | See all (3)

Usually ships in 24 hours

List Price:



Buy new:





Excerpt from page 125 "... protect land is to buy it." He [Ted Turner] has a strong conservation ethic and has been working with The Nature Conservancy; there is a conservation easement on the Flying D, protecting it from future development.) The ..."



Kindred Spirits: How the Remarkable Bond Between Humans and Animals Can Change the Way We Live
by Allen M. Schoen (Paperback )
Other Editions: Hardcover | Paperback | Audio Cassette (Abridged)

Usually ships in 24 hours

List Price:



Buy new:





Excerpt from page 199:


"... protect our greenspaces from the ever-increasing onslaught of development, numerous organizations are not only trying to purchase land and gain conservation easements but are connecting many of these greenspaces into vaster areas ... continuous, contiguous space. On a larger scale, the Tucson-based Wildlands Project is attempting to ensure the vitality of ecosystems by establishing a group of vast wildlife corridors -- large parcels of land ..."




The Ultimate Resource 2
by Julian Simon (Paperback

Other Editions: Hardcover | Paperback

Usually ships in 24 hours

List Price:



Buy new:




Excerpt from Index "..., 361 Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, 281 consciousness raising, 564 conservation easements, 144 conservation measures, 283-96, coercive, 304-8, for energy, 199, 202, ..." 


Additional excerpts from some of the organizations listed about in the quotes:



American Wildlands (AWL): "Pure WCT [Western Cutthroat Trout] are extinct throughout most of their historic range, and existing populations are in imminent danger from land-use activities and hybridization with introduced rainbow and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Even the strongest populations in Glacier National Park and the Flathead Basin of Montana are in serious decline. Reasons for the critical condition of the WCT include habitat destruction from logging, road building, grazing, mining, urban development, agriculture and dams, introduction of artificial hatchery strains, competition and hybridization from introduced non-native fish species, and over-fishing." Source: http://www.wildlands.org/water/wct/wct.html [Think about Gayle Norton's Four Cs* [see below] when you read the following, please] Cooperation With Others: A key component of the [American Wildlands] Lifescapes strategy is coordination and cooperation with other conservation groups, government agencies and scientists, private citizens, and local resident's groups. American Wildlands maintains contact, communication, and cooperative arrangements with a diverse group of other organizations and individuals. In the past year we have met with, collaborated, or worked on mutual problem-solving with: The Ecology Center, The Montana Gap Analysis Project, The Wyoming Gap Analysis Project, The Idaho Gap Analysis Project, The Wildlands Project, The Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project, The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks; The Idaho Department of Game and Fish, The Wyoming Department of Fish and Game, The University of Montana, Montana State University, The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, The Alliance For The Wild Rockies, The Yukon-to-Yellowstone Initiative, The World Wildlife Fund, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Committee, The Crown of the Continent Electronic Data Atlas, Parks Canada, The Canadian Wildlife Service, The Wilderness Society, The Idaho Conservation League, The Northern Rockies Conservation Coop, The Craighead Environmental Research Institute, The Craighead Wildlife-Wildlands Institute, The Predator Project, The Great Bear Foundation, Pacific Rivers. Source: http://www.wildlands.org/wildside/issue1/i01lifesoft.html



Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA): Russell Brenneman (Chair) is an environmental lawyer who has been involved in land conservation and environmental issues in Connecticut for more than thirty years. He helped organize several of the earliest community land trusts, drafted the legislation enabling conservation easements in this state and chaired the Connecticut Greenways Committee that was the precursor of the Greenways Committee. He serves on the boards of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association and the Environment and Human Health, Inc. He is a former member of the Conservation Law Foundation of New England and the International Council on Environmental Law. Mr. Brenneman is also the co-Chair of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is counsel to the Hartford and New Haven law firm, Murtha Cullina, where he founded its environmental practice group. He was one of the organizers of what is now the Environmental Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association. In prior years he has served as president of the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority and as chair of the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board. He is a member of the adjunct faculty of Trinity College, Hartford, and for a number of years taught environmental law at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Source: CTLCV (Connecticut League of Conservation Voters) Source: http://www.conservationeducation.org/contact_us.htm See also: SB540, an Act Concerning Consultants Hired By The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority. Source: http://www.cga.state.ct.us/2004/ba/2004SB-00540-R000342-BA.htm



EarthJustice Legal Defense: "Because the earth needs a good lawyer" Health and Communities Docket: Most Earthjustice cases have several plaintiffs, sometimes more than twenty. The plaintiffs listed here are singled out to give an impression of the breadth and diversity of the organizations Earthjustice represents. Source: http://www.earthjustice.org/program/health_and_communities/index.html?ID=&show=Docket



Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative: This is a 7-page Forest Service Draft Report, but just this is enough to prove the agenda (NOT a conspiracy "theory"!). Please not that the list provided is clearly stated as being a partial list, and look who's in the number 5 slot on a list that is not alphabetically arranged -- oh, and while you're perusing this list, see how many organizations you recognize (some of them are federal agencies that your taxpayer dollars fund). Organizations Interested or Involved in Wildlife Linkage Habitat: One of the first observations to come from the Boise and Dillon meetings was that many organizations were already working on proposals for key wildlife habitat acquisition, conservation easements, defining wildlife linkage habitat, working with private landowners to maintain important wildlife habitat (including linkages), meeting with each other and other important work related to this effort. The partial list of these organizations includes: 1.      American Wildlands. 2.      Kendall Foundation. 3.      Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. 4.      Turner Endangered Species Fund. 5.      Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative. 6.      Geo Data. 7.      Craighead Environmental Research Institute. 8.      Greater Yellowstone Coalition. 9.      Sierra Club Grizzly Bear Ecology Project. 10.  National Wildlife Federation. 11.  Defenders of Wildlife. 12.  Trust for Public Lands. 13.  Nature Conservancy. 14.  Alliance of the Rockies. 15.  Northwest Connections. 16.  Great Bear Foundation. 17.  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 18.  Idaho Department of Fish and Game. 19.  Montana DOT. 20.  Idaho Department of Transportation. 21.  University of Montana: Spatial Analysis Lab. 22.  Federal Highways Administration. 23.  USDI Fish and Wildlife Service. 24.  USDA Forest Service. 25.  USDI Bureau of Land Management. http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/wildlife/igbc/Linkage/LinkageReport.htm


Sierra Club: The [Sierra Club's "Sprawl Hurts Us All"] report defines true smart growth as the solution to our growing pains by directing growth into traditional patterns that concentrate homes and jobs in pedestrian-friendly town centres surrounded by green belts. But in order to develop in areas with existing infrastructure and preserve farms and natural areas, the report calls on politicians to: 1. Stop building new highways in Ontario [Canada]. 2. Freeze new greenfield development projects until the Ontario government passes appropriate smart growth legislation. 3. Protect threatened farmland and green space by establishing urban growth boundaries and promoting conservation easements and purchase of development rights. 4. Freeze water supply projects that would trigger massive suburban sprawl. 5. Require an analysis of the financial, health and environmental costs of proposed developments before permits are issued. 6. Create a 1 million acre greenbelt around the Golden Horseshoe. 6. Abolish the Ontario Municipal Board and replace it with a new appeals board [appointed, not elected]. Source: http://www.sierraclub.org/rcc/midwest/sprawl.asp

The Ecology Center: [One of the Data Layers for the Yellowstone 2 Yukon Land Trust Collaborative Maps] Y2Y Linear feature density map:   We still have to re-project and add this layer to the map server.  This layer, conducted by Bill Haskins of the Ecology Center shows relative road densities at a 1km scale throughout the study area.  Based on different road sources at various scales. Source: http://ims.geodata-mt.com/website/docs/y2y/maplayers.htm The Ecology Center: Tom Pratt, 801 Sherwood Street, Suite B, Missoula, MT, 59802 USA 406-728-5733. The Ecology Center works to protect biodiversity and intact ecosystems on public lands in the northern Rocky Mountains -- home to the largest expanse of wilderness and roadless areas in the continental U.S. Source: http://www.patagonia.com/za/PDC/Pgonia/grants_biod.jsp


The Wildlands Project (TWP): The Wildlands Project Contact: Leanne Klyza Linck, P.O. Box 455, Richmond, VT, 05477 USA 802-434-4077. The Wildlands Project is a coalition of environmental activists and conservation biologists working to protect and restore the ecological integrity of North America. ... the group's work to establish a system of core wilderness areas, biological corridors and buffer zones that will protect and restore populations of all species native to the continent. Source: http://www.twp.org Also known as North American Wilderness Recovery, Inc., 1955 W. Grant Road, Su. 145, Tucson, AZ. 85745-1147. Phone: 520-884-0875. Fax: 520-884-9062. Web site: http://www.twp.org. Purpose:  Conservation projects and events. Source: http://www.grasslandheritage.org/resources.html Here's a great "dot connector" URL: http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/conservation/skyislands.htm Other [Wildlands] Corridors: The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (403-609-2666; http://www.rockies.ca/ysy) is one of several projects seeking to link parks and reserves by wildlife-migration corridors. Here are a few others. Florida: In 1990 the Florida State Legislature passed the Preservation 2000 Act, which earmarked $3 billion in public funds to acquire land in endangered habitats, particularly that of the panther, as part of a plan to incorporate almost half the state into a system of reserves and corridors. (352-466-4136; conwayconsrv@igc.apc.org) Southwest United States and Mexico: The Sky Island Alliance has advanced a plan to connect isolated protected areas throughout the mesa and desert region of New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico. (505-243-5319; skisland@swcp.com) Eastern United States and Canada: A consortium of environmental groups is attempting to build a reserve network, known as A2A, that will connect Algonquin Park in Ontario to Adirondack Park in New York. (802-864-4850; glwildland@sprynet.com) Southern Rockies: In 1998 the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project released a plan to connect the reserves of southern Wyoming, Colorado, and northern New Mexico. (303-258-0433; srep@indra.com) http://magazine.audubon.org/y2y/

United Way: 2003 California State Employees Charitable Campaign. [Just look where your United Way dollars go! Conservation Easements -- Wildlands -- free legal representation by EarthJustice Legal Defense, and much, much more that is anti-human and pro-large predator. I'm not saying that the United Way doesn't do good things; I'm just asking you to take a look at the organizations that benefit from your donations.] Source: http://www.unitedwayslo.org/csecc/2003_State_Directory.pdf

Yellowstone to Yukon: Question 9 from the "Frequently Asked Questions" part of the Y2Y website [fairly bristles with 'c' words; think Gayle Norton]: How will Y2Y’s Conservation Area Design be implemented? Of course, conservation does not take place only through the establishment of new parks, wildlife refuges and other nature reserves. Effective conservation is also achieved on public and private lands through the dedicated and cooperative efforts of diverse individuals and institutions. Therefore, Y2Y’s Conservation Plan Implementation program aims to develop a shared conservation agenda that includes a variety of tools and information layers to facilitate conservation throughout the Y2Y region. Conservation easements, designation of new protected areas, cooperative management agreements, land acquisitions and exchanges, restoration efforts, and municipal growth management plans are just some of the on-the-ground mechanisms that may be needed for implementation. To minimize the need for new laws and planning processes, Y2Y will strive to incorporate the results of existing land-use processes in its planning, where they already reflect the needs of wildlife and support ecosystem integrity. Source: http://www.y2y.net/overview/faq.asp. Data Layers for the Yellowstone 2 Yukon Land Trust Collaborative Maps. Source: http://ims.geodata-mt.com/website/docs/y2y/maplayers.htm Excerpt from "From Yellowstone to Yukon," by Michael Finkel, published by the Audubon Society (undated): Y2Y's time frame for accomplishing its goals is imprecise, and much work needs to be done. Over the next few years, the groups and individuals involved with the initiative will attempt to map the best locations for the reserve network and its wildlife corridors. The network will include, as often as feasible, areas that are already protected. All the work will be filtered through the Y2Y home office, which is literally a home office--a staff of two toiling out of the second floor of a small house in Canmore, Alberta. Once the maps have been developed, discussions will begin with landowners-- governments, corporations, and individuals. There must be land purchases and exchanges, and conservation easements. Municipal-growth plans that establish and protect wildlife corridors will have to be passed. These efforts will be coordinated, for the most part, by the conservation groups that have the greatest expertise in each specific region. Nothing will happen, however, until there is widespread public support for the idea. Source: http://magazine.audubon.org/y2y/ The "Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative": http://www.rockies.ca/y2y

Ever hear of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund? Me, either, but they certainly are the generous grant givers to Wildlands Project implementers and their ilk. This is worth looking at. Source: http://www.goldmanfund.org/grants/02grants_env.phpx




The Wildlands Project: Wild-Eyed in the Wilderness [excerpted]



April 23, 2001


By John Elvin




To submit a Letter to the Editor: editor@insightmag.com


Sure, life is wild in this country now, but you ain't seen nothin' yet. With the support of major corporations, wealthy foundations, environmentalist groups and friends in government, convicted eco-terrorist Dave Foreman, a founder of the radical Earth First "Monkey Wrench" gang of professed saboteurs, is mapping a new "re-wilded" America that would be 50 percent "off-limits" to human occupation. This huge portion of the re-wilded U.S. mainland would be home to large carnivorous predators such as grizzly bears, jaguars, panthers, pumas and packs of wolves.

Ridiculous? Most Americans would have said the same thing only a few decades ago if told that every driver and passenger in a motor vehicle would have to be harnessed in or that cigarettes would be $3.50 a pack and harassed smokers would be huddled on sidewalks like derelicts.

Foreman's self-proclaimed "baby," the Wildlands Project, is more than a vision. It's more than a plan. It's an in the mill, 'happening' thing.

The Wildlands Project (TWP) is "the most ambitious and far-reaching attempt yet to reinvent the North American" continent according to ecologically correct guidelines, says Matt Bennett of the Citizens With Common Sense monitoring group. "Wildlands will be core reserves of millions of acres connected by vast corridors following rivers and other migratory paths from west to east, from Central America and Mexico through the U.S. and Canada, using national forests and other government lands."

Where government lands or trust lands owned by environmental groups are unavailable, private property will be acquired by regulatory decree or eminent domain. When you see a river, tract of land or whole region designated as a U.S. Heritage site, U.N. Biosphere Reserve, greenway, trail, path or some other special name conferred by environmentalists and their legislative and bureaucratic allies, "think Wildlands in the making," warns Bennett. ...

"Re-wilding" means that huge core areas in each region will be returned to pre-human conditions, connected by large roadless and unoccupied corridors maintained for migratory purposes. Extensive buffer zones will separate the completely wild areas from enclaves where humans may work and live. And that's just the beginning. The wild cores would be expanded as the buffers become depopulated and re-wilded.

Feeling a little claustrophobic? Well, you won't get any sympathy from the Wildlanders. Telegraphing the united environmental front he represents, project founder Foreman says: "All of us are warriors on one side or another in this war; there are no sidelines, there are no civilians."

Can this really be? You betcha! Activists involved in Wildlands planning in Nevada, for instance, see all but Reno, Las Vegas, the gold mines and the I-80 corridor as returned to nature. "I like the idea of taking it all and making 'people corridors,'" Marge Sill, federal-lands coordinator for the Sierra Club, told High Country News. "Move out the people and cars," says Foreman.

"No compromise" is another favored phrase, though Foreman and others in his group have expressed the belief that their overall re-wilding plans may not be fully realized for hundreds of years.

One reason to take the project seriously is the big money behind it. Major foundations fund TWP and its affiliates. Ted Turner's foundation has been a source of heavy funding, according to Ron Arnold's book Undue Influence. Other major funding comes from large donors, including the Pew Charitable Trusts and Patagonia outdoor gear. Because Wildlands is the nerve center for so many connected, cooperating regional groups, observers consider foundations providing those groups with funds, such as the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, to be Wildlands supporters.

Turner is of special interest because, when it comes to property rights, he has reason to be the country's most outspoken advocate. The billionaire environmental crusader owns close to 2 million acres, more than any other individual. Yet he not only funds TWP, but also appears engaged personally in initiating it.

For one thing, his huge holdings -- located in the Northwest, Southwest, Midwest and South -- are described as "a swath," indicating that he is building his empire in cooperation with the corridor concept. Conservation easements already are in place on several of his largest properties. While Turner dismisses concern that his lands will be given to the government as parks to be re-wilded, he told Progressive Farmer magazine that he can't guarantee what will happen in a hundred years. For now, the plan is for the Turner lands to go to foundations and trusts.

TWP's broader strategy calls for using existing parks and land trusts and acquiring the rest through methods some critics consider stealthy. Foreman explained the concept to Derrick Jensen, author of Listening to the Land, published by Sierra Club Books. "If we identify, say, a private ranch in Montana that's between two wilderness reserves, and we feel that 50 years from now it will be necessary as a corridor for wolves to go from one area to another, we can say to the rancher, 'We don't want you to give up your ranch now. But let us put a conservation easement on it. Let's work out the tax details so you can donate it in your will to this reserve system.' When it's needed for a corridor, it will be there."

Conservation easements can take various forms, the key being that they essentially prohibit any kind of development. In some instances, such as Foreman's example, the land may be used agriculturally for the lifetime of the farmer or rancher, then become a conservation area. Other arrangements simply prohibit future human use other than farming or ranching, eliminating development value but keeping the property private until some advocacy group or government agency sees it as vital to the cause. Usually, the owner at least has to agree to develop wildlife habitat on the private land, setting the stage to call for further "preservation." All such easement arrangements are subject to legal challenges by interested parties trying to upset the agreement one way or another, be they heirs or conservation organizations.

Bennett tells Insight that conservation easements are a major part of the Wildlands plan. As he sees the process, it's almost diabolical. Government, acting on behalf of environmental zealots, puts economic pressure on rural communities through restrictions on logging, ranching, mining and farming. "As the economic opportunities decline to the point that it is impossible to make a living, a conservation easement or even donation of land for some kind of tax credit may make sense to a landowner," he says. ...

Transactions monitored by her group included markups of 22 percent to 155 percent in sales of trust lands to government, with profits of as much as $5 million. Critics say acquisitions of easements or properties in their entireties promise to become a more common practice with passage last year of a modified version of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA). It created a huge federal slush fund for park purchases and maintenance. With bipartisan support in Congress and the backing of major environmental groups, a full-fledged, fully funded CARA stands a good chance of getting through this year.

Foreman has his own spin on property rights, which he is trying to abrogate, attacking "so-called conservatives today who prattle on about property rights without any sense of responsibility. With rights come responsibilities and accountability." His is an umbrella organization for more than 30 regional environmental groups that have adopted his terms, polemics and goals as their own.

Because its headquarters is in Tucson, Arizona, many who are aware of the Wildlands effort mistakenly believe it is limited to the West. Instead, there are active groups -- and plans -- from Maine to Florida.

Allied covert operations with similar agendas shy away from direct identification and talk in more vague and general terms of wilderness preservation, forest-land protections or stewardship programs. "There is a significant amount of synergy among various environmental groups and the Wildlands Project," according to monitor Bennett. "Different, and often independent, groups work on their own projects and in an indirect way make TWP more likely."

Bennett, whose group maintains a Website at http://www.wildlandsproject.org, calls TWP a "rethinking of science, politics, land use, industrialization and civilization. It requires a new philosophical and spiritual foundation for Western civilization." Bennett calls it nature worship "on a mission from God or Gaia," the term used by New Age eco-spiritualists for the living Earth or pagan Universal Mother of the ancients.

Not surprisingly, Bennett's Website is, in turn, under attack by TWP. A note at its site, http://www.twp.org, accuses Bennett of using "scare tactics in an attempt to create unwarranted public fear about TWP's proposals" through display of "altered maps, quotes taken out of context and false information." Foreman's group says it is "exploring legal options as a remedy for the confusion and fear being spread" by Citizens With Common Sense.

Lucky for Bennett and his group that Foreman has mellowed since his arrest on charges of plotting to sabotage several nuclear facilities in the West by downing power lines serving the plants. He pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges and received a suspended sentence. Involved since 1971 in radical efforts to reduce population and restructure the approach of Western civilization to technology, ideology and economics, Foreman was for many years the chief Washington lobbyist for the Wilderness Society.

After six years with Earth First, he says, he became disenchanted with its "hippie, counter cultural" image. The real nature of the split seems to have been between left-wing activists who include "social justice" in their ecological agenda and those such as Foreman who just want to "re-wild" the planet. Not only is the Foreman contingent little concerned about humanity's woes, but also its attitude is the less humans the better. Foreman says he sees "eating, manufacturing, traveling, warring and breeding" by humans as causes of "the greatest crisis in 4 billion years of life on Earth."

Today, Foreman calls those who practice the eco-terror tactics he once espoused "idiots." He says he's "never been a liberal or a leftist, which makes a lot of my friends in the conservation movement unhappy." He describes himself as a registered Republican and "redneck," a great-great-grandson of New Mexico homesteaders. His opposition to immigration -- an outgrowth of his desire to limit population growth -- also is a cause of friction with those on the left.

But this man is a member of the board of directors of the Sierra Club, the most influential left-wing environmental group in the country. It was Foreman who led it to endorse replacing the 50 states with 21 "bio-regions." But the actual "how-to" for that particular scheme is presented as the work of TWP cofounder Reed Noss, a conservation biologist.

The plan is complex, requiring a hefty 50-page document to present, but it stems from belief that the current "parks" system to protect nature for scenic and recreational purposes, doesn't work. Because the parks are "islands" remote from each other and are used by humans, many types of wildlife are doomed to extinction, Noss explains. What is needed is "connectivity." To have the connectivity vital to migrating species, particularly large carnivores, many other types of land "from the highest to the lowest elevations, the driest to the wettest sites, and across all types of soils, substrates and topoclimates" will have to be linked to the parks.

The way to do this is through creation of bio-regions or eco-regions for planning purposes. The regions also have psychological value in selling the idea to locals because they "often inspire feelings of belonging and protectiveness in their more enlightened human inhabitants." Each of the regions would have large reserve areas restored to a primitive state, providing "connectivity" to other regions for the benefit of migrating wildlife.

The fact that many of these regions now lack huge swaths of primitive land suitable for wildlife migration gets to re-wilding -- the core mission of the project. Noss advises activists to get busy now mapping local areas, with cornfields and parking lots of less interest than "roaded landscapes that are relatively undeveloped and restorable, especially when adjacent to or near roadless areas." It's that kind of thinking that makes rural-property holders more than a little nervous.

Having identified where corridors will exist in their areas, activists following Noss' plan identify obstacles ahead. These include private property to be acquired, "land and mineral-rights acquisitions, road closures, road modifications, cancellations of grazing leases and timber sales, tree planting, dam removals, stream dechannelization and other restoration projects."

One question that comes to mind is how these grizzlies, panthers and wolves will know to stay within their reserves and corridors. But that's really no big problem, TWP statements assure us: "People can coexist with wolves, bears and other wildlife, just as they have for thousands of years in many parts of the world, including North America. In most cases, humans can easily learn to safely coexist with wildlife by making minimal lifestyle changes."




*The Four C’s: Consultation, Communication, and Cooperation, all in the service of Conservation. – Attributed to and regularly touted by Gayle Norton, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/government/norton-bio.html





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2004, All Rights Reserved