Eco-philanthropists to the rescue of wildlife?
Former CEOs lead a pack of eco-philanthropists who are bankrolling parks to conserve pristine land and wildlife.
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Among others, for example, there is Roxanne Quimby, the former owner of Burt's Bees products who has been buying up land in Maine's Great North Woods to create a national park. And Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, who has poured in millions to save the Amazon. Heiress Katharine Ordway has given more than $64 million to create preserves including the 8,100-acre Konza Prairie Research Natural Area in Kansas. And real estate investor M.C. Davis sealed off 48,000 acres in the Florida Panhandle.Skip to next paragraph
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"There is a resurgence of park-related philanthropy," says Tom Butler, a friend of the Tompkinses who wrote the 2008 book "Wildlands Philanthropy: The Great American Tradition." "There is this new category of highly entrepreneurial conservation philanthropist."
But this is not just the hobby of the rich.
The movement aimed at conserving land has mushroomed among ordinary Joes with the growth of organizations such as the Land Trust Alliance (LTA), in which landowners can donate easements to permanently limit uses of land. The US-based group says the number of land trusts has grown to 1,667 in the United States, a 32 percent increase over five years.
Their motivations might be as simple as not wanting to see the woods they used to play in turn into yet another housing development. "People are realizing if they do not do something now, all of their favorite places will be gone," says Rob Aldrich, director of information services at the LTA.
The Tompkinses, avid skiers and hikers, fell in love with Patagonia, taking camping trips each April – in the Austral autumn – throughout its nooks and corners, until finally settling there. Today Ms. Tompkins cannot put into words what draws her here, but both left corporate America and put their efforts full-time into conservation.
Mr. Tompkins, in 1990, founded the Foundation for Deep Ecology, which espouses the holistic philosophy that humans are part of nature as a whole, and that nature is not to be used solely for human purposes. To carry out their South American work, he created the Conservation Land Trust, and she created Conservacion Patagonica.