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Like circling
buzzards, the
NGO’s wait...

By Tim Findley
Bruce Babbitt

All the Colorado Plateau–from Four Corners east to where the Sierra Club still dreams of “freeing” the Colorado with destruction of Glen Canyon Dam, and on past Escalante across the rim of the Grand Canyon into the high ridges of the Parashant in Arizona, and even further in the fantasy of the Wildlands Project–is eyed hungrily by so-called NGOs, or Non-Government Organizations, representing potently funded environmental groups.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) led the way in 1991 with its leadership in creation of the so-called “Vail Agenda,” and as the decade progressed, the group’s authority as a virtual shadow government in the Clinton administration steadily grew. The “greens” had their puppet, their “Babe Ruth” in the cabinet seat of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. They could promise votes at the right time–and money whenever the time was right. And with the growing importance of the IUCN, the so-called World Conservation Union, TNCs position among some 90 other NGOs that comprise its core was even more important.

If not all they wanted could be secured by arbitrary action of the administration, what remained could be picked off piecemeal from the relentless pressures imposed on land and right holders within the new wilderness and “heritage” zones. By the end of the decade, TNCs position in this wedge of near extortion was so exposed that the multi-million-dollar master group sought more shadowy shelter from media exposure. New groups, with identical approaches to offering buyouts to ranchers and other right holders willing to give up, sprang up everywhere. In the Escalantes, it was the Grand Canyon Trust with something called the Bright Edge Campaign. Though the Trust claimed no attachment to TNC, its executives were virtually all former functionaries of Nature Conservancy and its tactics almost the same–find the weakness, buy out willing sellers, and pressure those remaining.

When Mary Bullock (see “Wild Cow Mary,” RANGE, Winter 2000) felt overwhelmed by Escalante Monument pressures on her allotments last year, she mentioned to Monument Manager Kate Cannon that perhaps it would just be better to sell it.

Cannon insists it was merely a coincidence that later that same day she heard something that seemed to fit with Mary’s desire. The helpful federal Monument Manager said she spotted Mary’s truck on a Kanab street and stopped to leave a note on the vehicle telling Mary, “These people might be interested in your property.”

“These people” were the representatives of the Grand Canyon Trust. So far, Mary has not sold.

Related stories in this Special Section by Tim Findley:

Making Monuments, Taking Towns

Can the People Be Heard?

Don't Accept Lies, Look at the Facts

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