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High Praise for Sen. Messerle

7/23/03  State Sen. Ken Messerle, (R-OR), doubts it is appropriate to accept grants from the federal government, especially when it involves placing more land out of reach of development or traditional use.  It is a stance that has earned him the contempt of several local governments and the head of Oregon’s Nature Conservancy.  Oregon was in line to receive $687,000 to place 200 acres of private woodlands into a conservation easement.  Another deal would have meant $1 million for a conservation easement of 1,240 acres of forest and savanna lands.  The grants were pending subject to legislative action by the state legislature and now, thanks to Sen. Messerle’s maneuvers, the deadline has passed and the money is no longer available. “We’re the laughingstock of the Forest Service in Washington, D.C.” said Hilary Abraham of TNC.  “They’ve never heard of a state rejecting federal grants before.” Messerle expressed concerns that beneficial uses of the land would be forbidden.  “Oregon is over 60 per cent publicly owned now.  How far do we want to go down that line?  We have to worry about our economy too.”  Senator Messerle should be commended for his tough stance against the very organized and well funded Nature Conservancy.  Besides, the grant wasn’t “free” money, it’s our tax dollars.  More state legislators need to follow Sen. Messerle’s lead.    Critic Blames Conservative Lawmakers for Losing Grant - Doc 2518

TNC Faces Double-Whammy Government Investigation

A series of articles about The Nature Conservancy by the Washington Post has caught the attention of Congress.  Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), last week sent a letter to the Conservancy Chairman, Steven J. McCormick, asking for records of their financial dealings over the past ten years.  The committee even wants social security numbers of people “who received loans and land from the nonprofit.”   The senators wrote that the Post’s articles triggered “serious questions about TNC’s practices regarding land sales, purchases and donations; executive compensation; and corporate governance…”  The committee is particularly interested in sweetheart land deals TNC made with current or former trustees.   The committee will also seek information about The Conservancy from the Internal Revenue Service.  The Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit organization, although it has assets estimated in the billions of dollars.   The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it is conducting an investigation of whether TNC has illegally used EPA grant money “to subsidize the purchase of lands for the benefit of Board members, trustees, or employees.”  The investigation is a result of a complaint filed by the Landmark Legal Foundation, a public interest legal group located in Washington, D.C.  EPA has distributed over two billion taxpayer dollars to 14 non-profit special interest groups since 1993.

EPA Investigating TNC at Landmark's Request - Doc 2520
Nature Conservancy Faces Panel Review - Doc 2521






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