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In this issue you will find a lovely story by Penny Porter about a wetback named Tomás. I, too, am a wetback, if you consider coming into this country illegally via Canada and the St. Lawrence River. Je suis Caroline. I probably evaded the law for the same reason Tomás didto find work.
The difference was I didnt have a mob of people to take care of across the border like Tomás. My family was in England. I was alone. A teenager. Not too bright. No education. But this country gave me what I needed. A chance.
This is what the women in this issue had. They had guts, worked hard, and had setbacks and sorrows like the rest of us. But they were all inspired by the country. Linda Davis. Dee Douglas. Ina Labrier. Jane Collie Woods. Susan Marxer. Joan Vogt. Barbara Van Cleve.
Its something that The Nature Conservancysubject of our special report in the center of this issuewants to take a piece of. The country weve cared for. Even though most of the words about TNC in this issue are not kind, we admit that some of the things they have done have been terrific and they are great at telling you how good they are. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives (unless you count money). One of their former vice presidents quit some years back because, he said, Its not about conservation any more. Its all about power and money.
Some of the million-plus small spenders at TNC dont know that. They see the brochures. They hear the rhetoric. They meet the handsome and charming operatives. They breathe easier thinking some precious creature is being saved. What they dont know is that one imperiled species often pushes out another, and that other is often people. Nice people. Rural people who sometimes succumb to the pressures, because they have no capital, few choices, and are too old or too tired to fight
Its not just The Nature Conservancy that is helping to eliminate small ranches and farms. Its all the activist groups that make TNC look better: The Center for Biological Diversity, Forest Guardians, Western Watersheds, and other big guys like the Sierra Club, Audubon, The Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation. They have their reasons to exist, many good ones, but the bottom line is what they want is usually a farm or a ranchfor a bird sanctuary, a frog pond, a backpacking trail, or habitat for cougar, salamander, lynx, kangaroo rat, desert tortoise and grizzly. And while they save the country, their salaries arent bad, either. The American Institute of Philanthropy says Christopher A. Smith, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, gets $848,482. The Sacramento Bee shows presidents of World Wildlife Fund and National Audubon Society rate $241,638 and $239,670, respectively. Audubons administrative costs in 2000 were $5,347,880; Sierra Clubs $5,073,979; TNCs $40,223,828; and TNC has a Director of Climate Change Program at $171,734.
Its a pity loggers, ranchers and farmers dont have access to that kind of green. Can you imagine what the resources would look like with that kind of infusion of cash?
Groups like TNC put the pressure on and usually get what they go afterabout 90 million acres worldwide so far. But what happens after that is strange. Some things they promote bucks for are saved. Most arent. Property goes off the tax rolls because it was acquired by an enviro group then sold to the federal government--using tax dollars, of course, and often at a huge profit. That destroys the county tax base, local businesses arent supported, schools close, small communities go on tilt, then fail. That was proved when the Sierra Club went after logging a decade ago. Carl Pope, Sierra Club executive director said, It wouldnt have worked if the spotted owl hadnt been such a pretty bird.
Because of their pressures, hundreds of mills shut down, thousands of jobs were lost. Rural communities couldnt survive without those workers.
Tourism will replace logging, Sierra Club claimed.
Coffee shops will open in Lakeview, Oregon, and replace logging and ranching, said Andy Kerr, now a leader of RangeNet (whose desire is to destroy ranching on federal lands in the West as quickly as possible).
Tourism didnt work. Travelers bring their own bag lunches and leave more toxic trash than a cow or sheep could even think of.
Rabid, you say? Us? Heck no. We are just telling you what we discovered, some of which came from The Nature Conservancys own website. You be the judge as to whether some wetbacks are OK and if this wealthy beast and its effete friends are a plus.
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