Inside the Nature Conservancy
BIG GREEN | Inside the Nature Conservancy
Officials at the Nature Conservancy say their finances are an open book, a stance charity experts describe as essential to promoting public trust. Still, simple answers can prove difficult to get.
 
A look inside the Nature Conservancy reveals a whirring marketing machine that has poured millions into building and protecting the organization's image, laboring to transform the charity into a household name.
 
BIG GREEN | When Conservation and Business Fail to Mix
TEXAS CITY, Tex. --Eight years ago, Mobil Oil gave the Nature Conservancy what was one of the group's largest corporate donations, a patch of prairie that encompassed the last native breeding ground of a highly endangered bird.
 
OYSTER, Va. -- With great difficulty, the Nature Conservancy five years ago hoisted an abandoned U.S. Coast Guard station building onto a dolly, slipped it onto a barge and shipped it six miles to the outskirts of this little town on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
 
BIG GREEN | When Conservation and Business Fail to Mix
Of all the products that carry the Nature Conservancy imprimatur, perhaps the most unexpected is beef.
 
BIG GREEN | A House in the Woods
On New York's Shelter Island, the Nature Conservancy three years ago bought an undeveloped, 10-acre tract overlooking its Mashomack Preserve, an oasis of hardwoods and tidal pools located just a stone's skip from the exclusive Hamptons. Cost to the charity: $2.1 million.
 
MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass. -- Two years ago, the Nature Conservancy triumphantly announced a complex real estate transaction, a $64 million deal in which it acquired 215 acres of rare open sandplain. Conservancy officials hailed it as "an important victory for conservation on Martha's Vineyard," part of a campaign to save the Earth's "Last Great Places."
 
Big Green
Mike Kahn, a Florida business consultant and former golf pro, advises celebrities and sports stars how they can save millions in taxes: Buy a golf course and prohibit building on the fairways.
 
The Senate Finance Committee's chairman and its ranking Democrat said yesterday that they are troubled by reports that the Arlington-based Nature Conservancy sold scenic properties to its own trustees and that they will demand an accounting from the charity's leaders.
 
The Nature Conservancy has suspended a range of practices, including the sale of ecologically sensitive land to its trustees as home sites, in the wake of press accounts describing the Arlington-based nonprofit's activities and concerns expressed by some of its 1 million members.
 
The Nature Conservancy is hiring outside lawyers and one of the nation's largest public relations companies to help head off a congressional investigation following disclosure that the nonprofit has sold scenic properties to its own trustees, internal Conservancy memos show.
 
A six-month inquiry into the Arlington-based Nature Conservancy by the Senate Finance Committee has raised "new questions in a wide range of areas," leading investigators to intensify their pursuit of internal audits and property records they have been seeking since last summer, according to committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).
 
The Nature Conservancy, which earlier this month issued a statement of regret to Congress for misreporting the terms of an internal loan to its chief executive, has over the past decade extended 11 housing loans to other employees, including five who were not charged interest.
 
Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions: Charity Builds Assets on Corporate Partnerships (Post, May 4, 2003)
 

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