The Nature Conservancy

Still not done!
The Nature Conservancy 072510

Who are the FIL up against?


What’s not to love about TNC?  
The organization has roots going back to 1915, and a long history of doing the right thing.  In 1955 the newly organized TNC purchased its first land (55 acres in Connecticut) and began the revolving loan fund, the Land Preservation Fund.  A few years later TNC partnered with the Bureau of Land Management, the beginning of a long and happy relationship with federal lands.  
In addition to partnering for land preservation and encouraging conservation easements, TNC took a strategy of focusing in biodiversity.  
Indeed, science, the hard kind, guides TNC projects, and their track record is rather amazing.  As global environmental degradation proceeds without pause, there are bright islands of restored, functional ecosystems, proving that science can understand and correct natural systems, much evidence to the contrary.
TNC has purchased hundreds of thousands of acres, converting it to national parks; in short doing what government should have done.  
TNC acquires this track record by carefully choosing their projects, and by partnering with local and regional groups to make things work.  In 1991 the group instituted its “Last Great Places: An Alliance for People and the Environment initiative” to seek help from people local to projects.
This strategy has been very successful not only in the U.S., but around the globe, where TNC has regional and ecosystem wide plans which it accomplishes by bringing together governments, other conservation organizations, local people and corporations to preserve or restore whole mountain ranges or plains.  
What started as an informal group of naturalists is today a global corporation with more than a million members and a 5.5 billion dollar budget.
Criticisms of the organization include that it allows logging, oil drilling, mining and hunting on its lands.  More significant criticisms pointed to land swapping and cheap loans among board members and friends.  That has supposedly stopped.  Most recently, TNC has taken flak for it’s partnering with BP, though the group maintains that BP is a major landowner and more is accomplished through cooperation than boycotting.  
Clearly, the organization has done much good, and we should all name our first born TNC.
So, what happened at Independence lake?  Why are some local people so unhappy with TNC new rules, and why has there been so little of the spirit TNC espouses?  From their website:
“Commitment to People,” which states that we “respect the needs of local communities by developing ways to conserve biological diversity while at the same time enabling humans to live productively and sustainably on the landscape.”

It could certainly be said that TNC is working with local groups, since a local conservation group will be operating the project.  Further, there are plenty of locals who support TNC at Independence Lake (see inset, below).   But, it is also true that the handling of the issue of access and the use of motorboats has netted more than a few against the global do-gooder.   Why has resolution been so difficult to achieve?
One reason might be Project Director Fitchel.  He’s been cordial enough, but intractable to the point one would believe he has no decision making power in the matter.
If that is the case, if Fitchel is just a figurehead, then the issue needs to be pushed up the food chain to the desk of someone who can arrive at a suitable compromise.
On the other hand, if Fitchel does have decision making powers and could resolve the problem, then the problem is merely Fitchel.  

TNC needs to provide some satisfaction to our local indigenous people, by which I mean the good old boys who like to fish the lake.  

We’ll keep you posted!

What about Bill?
If there is one person who understands this situation well it’s Bill Copren, Mr. Trout, the irascible denizen of the county who has logged and fished the lake, and who strongly supports protecting Independence Lake and the Tahoe Trout.   The Prospect has tried to entice Mr. Copren to spout on the issue, going to far as to bait him with lines cursing catch-and-release fisherpersons as fish terrorists, but he’s a crafty old lunker.  
There are other local people with history and clout who might step in and educate all involved and so bring about a resolution.
So far, though, no one has!

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