I wasn't looking for people to decide who I donated to, I was just looking for ideas so I could weed out the ones I like
I find the obsession with purchasing land pretty amusing. It may (or may not...) interest folks that TNC, surely one of the largest, most famous land-buying conservation outfits of all time, has made a well-considered strategic shift in the last decade away from buying land and toward influencing the stewardship of other people's land (private and public). So they're:
- conducting tons
of their own and also training many, many other folks in prescribed fire and weed management,
- doing a ton of habitat mapping and forecasting for huge landowners like BLM, USFS, big timber, etc, (including - oh the horror
- helping folks figure out how to earn a sustainable income off their land),
- helping with climate-change vulnerability assessments,
- and yes, still doing a lot of real estate deals - but doing a lot more "conservation flipping" and hanging onto almost nothing new.
They made this pretty profound shift because (among other good reasons) they discovered that owning land is insanely
expensive, FOREVER, and that they could wring WAY, WAY more conservation value out of a donated buck by helping others manage their own land better, than by trying to buy it from them and then being on the sharp hook for managing it themselves.
It's sad, and funny at the same time, that TNC has sort of had to do this strategic pivot "secretly", because they have a huge donor base that has developed the expectation (much like we've read here) that buying land is 1) "the" right way to do conservation and 2) that's just who TNC is, for ever and ever. It's just like in politics - we can't HANDLE the truth so we don't get the truth. ("Yes sweetie, you can have it all and not pay for it. No sweetie, you won't get sick from eating 4000 calories a day of sugar and lipids. Have another pony keg of Coke and a double whopper, and why dontcha super-size those freedom fries.")
Any doubters out there can just compare a current TNC magazine with one from, say, 5 years ago. Remember that section where (kind of like in USA Today) they used to do state-by-state puff pieces and highlight a land deal in each state? Buh-bye. And now there are way more articles about TNC-led conservation science, education & outreach, influencing policy, etc. Ever wonder about that? Wonder no more.
Aside - CEOs in this country just get paid a LOT. Right or wrong that's how it is right now. TNC is a high-profile, highly-effective outfit. I don't know if that would remain the case if they paid poorly.
I won't comment on the Orianne bashing directly. I will say I have worked with them a little and have no complaints. I would add they have impressed me with their business acumen and their deeply-considered strategic approach to indigo conservation, which includes some land acquisition (NOT in overpriced Florida, but in bargain-basement Georgia sandhills - smart!), significant stewardship of those lands, some attempts to help or influence others to better-manage their own lands to benefit indigos (e.g., w/ prescribed fire), some research to help understand factors that limit indigo persistence or recruitment on the landscape, especially on the northern end of the range (e.g., too-few tortoise burrows & stumpholes, etc), and some
ex-situ conservation (including captive breeding).
To some extent the ex-situ stuff operates on the same principle as TNC not being able to just come out and say "Hey, you know what, we've studied this pretty closely and that thing you want us to do is just not going to work out so well - it's not really that helpful and it's stupid-expensive". We EXPECT it, and they need - require
- our support, so we force them to do it, even though it might actually be kind of dumb. It's the same thing politicians face. And we complain so much about them.Now ain't that a bitch?
There's no silver bullet, no single answer, to conserving amphibians, indigo snakes, big cats, whatever. But thank God there's a guy out there who gives a shit about an imperiled snake species and who's rich enough
and focused enough
and good enough at business
to do something about it, now and probably for quite a long time. I think Orianne is more of a game-changer than we've seen specifically in indigo conservation in decades
. Especially if the Florida peninsula is underwater, literally, in a century or less...as seems increasingly likely.