International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources

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The International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources (IFCNR), a 501(c)(3) established 1995 in the Commonwealth of Virginia, describes itself as a independent non-profit foundation "that represents a broad range of individuals, academic institutions, corporations, associations, industries, cultures, non-governmental organizations and government agencies bound together by the desire to promote responsible, sustainable, environmentally compatible, and socially just use and conservation of the Earth's natural resources." [1]

It argues that "Some are hopelessly, dangerously, and even intentionally myopic. Regulatory, legislative, and legal actions undertaken in the name of 'saving the animals' often present cultures, governments, professions, and corporations dependent upon resource use with dire consequences. Those consequences can mean the end to trade, severely inhibiting regulatory mandates, the abolition of the outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing, as well as the endangerment of an ancient culture." [2]


Mission
"To communicate, educate, evaluate, and advocate for the environmentally sound, ethical, socially just, and sustainable use of Nature's resources." [3]

Pombo's Environmental Group

California Republican Representative Richard Pombo, who is chairman of the House Resources Committee, "runs his own 'environmental' group, called the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, according to Matt Weiser, High Country News published July 25, 2005, by the Environmental Working Group.

IFCNR, "funded by large corporations, challenges mainstream environmental groups and crusades for more lenient environmental laws worldwide. Between 2001 and 2003 the foundation collected donations totaling $130,000 from food giants Sysco Corp., Monsanto and General Mills. It then put out a series of 'studies' and position papers on the importance of bioengineered food. During the same period, it collected almost $430,000 from restaurant chains, corporate fishing concerns, whaling organizations and fur-trapping associations. The foundation then launched a barrage of counterattacks against animal-rights groups that had organized boycotts of those industries."

The IFCNR is "bankrolled in large part by the parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurant chains, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants," the Center for Public Integrity reported October 18, 2005. "From 2000 to 2004, Darden has given IFCNR a total of $574,000, more than a third of its total support. The IFCNR has no staff and its headquarters are located at a home address, yet tax returns claim money for 'Leasehold Improvements,' 'Fence,' and 'Flooring'."

"IFCNR does not reveal its relationship with Darden or any of its other funders on its Web site, although articles defending and praising the activities of both" Red Lobster and Pombo "are featured prominently there." [4]

Pombo's Junkets

The Center for Public Integrity has discovered that Pombo "has taken at least two foreign trips costing more than $23,000 that were paid for by the nonprofit International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources."

"Pombo said he did not pay taxes on his foreign trips. IFCNR does not indicate that it paid taxes on the trips anywhere on its publicly available tax documents. In fact, IFCNR checked a box on all its tax forms from 2000 through 2004 saying it did not 'provide a grant to an individual for travel, study, or other similar purposes.'" [5]

"Experts on tax issues said the law requires Pombo to return the costs of the foreign trips to the foundation. If not, both the foundation and the member of Congress could face stiff penalties from the IRS." [6]

According to the Center for Public Integrity's research:

  • "Pombo recently pushed legislation through the House which critics claim will gut the landmark Endangered Species Act. He also has drawn fire for a working document drafted by staffers on one of the subcommittees of his House Resources Committee that suggests 16 national parks be sold off for development in order to close a budget gap." [7]
  • "The Pombo trips involved a subsidiary of IFCNR called the Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union, which the foundation formed several years ago, according to IFCNR President Emeritus Stephen Boynton. Pombo was chairman of SUPU from its formation in 2000 until this past July. He was replaced as chairman of the group by Rep. Dennis Rehberg, a Republican from Montana." [8]
  • "A November 2000 trip to Nelson, New Zealand, on which Pombo was accompanied by his wife, cost $10,120. Another IFCNR-sponsored trip by Pombo in May 2002 to Shimonoseki, Japan, on which he was accompanied by a member of his staff, cost $13,190." [9]

The Center for Public Integrity interviewed Pombo, who "said he was unaware the foundation was private or that it fell under a different set of tax rules from most other nonprofit groups that pay for foreign travel by members of Congress. 'I really have no idea what is going on with that foundation,' said Pombo. Obviously I will have my accountant check into this.'

"But Boynton said in a taped interview that he had checked with Pombo and the House Ethics Committee and that the trips had been cleared by both." (Link to the interview on page.) [10]

"Pombo said that he has not spoken to Boynton or had contact with IFCNR or the Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union in three or four years—even during the time he served as SUPU's chairman—and that he currently has no plans to reestablish contact with the groups." [11]

Anti-Environmentalist Front Group

The IFCNR website "includes a large number of articles that attack animal-protection groups or defend corporations such as Darden and Monsanto," the Center for Public Integrity wrote. "A three-part series defending Monsanto's biotechnology business promises to examine 'the public crucifixion of a corporate name, Monsanto, and the mutation of environmental and animal advocacy.'

"The Humane Society of the United States is singled out for some of the harshest criticism on the Web site. The group's push to end Canadian seal hunts has included a snow crab boycott effort that in recent months focused on Red Lobster. One article on the Web site attacking the Humane Society over the boycott effort is titled 'Target Red Lobster: A Lesson for Corporations & Others.'"

GM Foods

"IFCNR has traditionally focused on defending hunting, trapping and fishing but more recently GM [genetically-modified foods] has been added to its list of causes and it now has a website focusing specifically on this issue," GM Watch wrote in its IFCNR profile. "The rationale behind this focus is made clear in an IFCNR article about how a specialty grocery chain had gone GM free following, 'a year-long campaign of street theater intimidation orchestrated by Greenpeace'": "Trader Joe's Defenseless Against Greenpeace," November 19, 2001.

World Council of Whalers

In August 1998, the World Council of Whalers (WCW) welcomed IFCNR as a member. WCW reported that Steven Boynton, "an attorney, has been involved in sustainable use issues for many years and was a great help during the drafting of the WCW resolutions and ultimately the introduction of the WCW resolution into the US Congressional Record."

"Congressman Richard Pombo read the WCW General Assembly Resolution into the Congressional Record on June 11, 1998. WCW believes this is very significant because the US is one of the IWC member States that continually comes to the IWC forum with a 'no whaling' position." WCW thanked Pombo "for his strength and courage to introduce such a controversial resolution into the Congressional record of an anti-whaling nation. Mind you, Congressman Pombo is not new to sustainable resource issues as he represented the US Congress at the CITES Conference held in Zimbabwe in June 1997."

The August 1999 WCW newsletter reported that "a request [had been submitted] to WCW to prepare a 'briefing book' to provide background information to government decision makers concerning the whaling issue in Tonga and internationally. ... This sustainable development initiative has been supported with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency and the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources."

Key Personnel

See the Center for Public Integrity article for information it gleaned about these individuals.

Donors

"The International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources received donations from nearly three dozen funders from 2000 to 2004. Most of the money came from companies in the food, agricultural or fur industries. Some donations came from IFCNR officials such as David Wills, which could be a violation of Internal Revenue Service regulations on private foundations," the Center for Public Integrity reported in IRS filings. [Note: The listing is available in $ order on the CPI website.]

Contact Details

IFCNR World Conservation Center
21036 Beallsville Road
Dickerson, Maryland 20842
Mail: Post Office Box 1019, Poolesville, MD 20837
Telephone: 301 990-6481
Email: IFCNR AT cs.com
URL: http://www.ifcnr.com/
URL: http://www.wildecology.ifcnr.com/about.cfm

External links

Profiles

IFCNR Publications

  • Steven S. Boynton, Letter to the Christian Science Monitor, August 26, 1999: "the concept that animals have civil, natural or political rights must, of necessity, be 'determined' by what man rationally believes and determines those 'rights' entail."

Websites

  • Vote Pombo Out.org provides many links to Pombo-related "lobbying" activities involving IFCNR.

Articles & Commentary