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Founded 1994

The right to own private property is a fundamental American freedom that
guarantees personal liberty and promotes economic prosperity.

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Memorial Day 2013

Dear Friend:

Greetings and very best regards!

Once again, I'd like to thank you for standing with PRFA on behalf of private property rights.
The fundamental right to own and use private property is essential to the security of people in their communities, businesses, and families.

For over eighteen years, the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., has been in the vanguard of warning people about the dangers of land designations.

Why such fervent opposition to something so high-sounding and seemingly innocent?

Because these designations lead to the loss of private landownership and the displacement of rural people.

When my husband Peter and I moved north from New York City to the Adirondack Mountains, it was rather easy for us, as outsiders, to see what the governor-appointed regional Adirondack Park Agency stood for-mass eradication of a widespread population by facilitated attrition.

After a few years, I learned from the environmental literature and congressional records that the Adirondack "Park" was the template for regional preserves elsewhere in the United States. To develop each of these ambitious greenways, etc., the environmental preservationists invariably presented a false face to depict the motivations for each project, portraying the need to preserve nature while protecting the local people and their economy in a way of life that would be harmonious with nature, as was supposedly happening in the Adirondack Mountains.

The designation of areas as federal and state greenways, heritage areas, corridors and other protected spaces has been considered by some of the leading Greens and their funding organizations as their most powerful tool to eradicate the rural population, or, as they put it, to "save agriculture," "restore forests," "prevent urban sprawl," and create "connectivity" of "wild spaces."

I could see this happening in New York State and began spreading this information nationwide after co-founding the Property Rights Foundation of America.

The environmental preservationists seldom speak publicly about their desire to "restore" vast areas of the nation to what they falsely claim was the untrammeled condition of North America before Europeans set foot on the shores of the continent. But their literature makes it clear that something as innocent sounding as a greenway is meant as a linear area of preservation to be joined and interconnected to many other such linear strips of wild land and ultimately expand so that the rural landscape will be restored to nature with only islands of built up areas.

The Ultimate Designation-The Biosphere Reserve

One of the earliest and surely the most radical of environmental land preservation schemes is the UN Biosphere Reserve program, a UNESCO program that is carried out in the United States through the U.S. Department of State and the National Park Service. In 1989, the Adirondack Mountains and areas to the east including part of Vermont were secretly designated as the Champlain Adirondack Biosphere Reserve, upon the joint nominations from New York and Vermont. Governor Mario Cuomo signed the New York's application, which was prepared by the Adirondack Park Agency.

This biosphere reserve designation was made public in 1990 when the governor's study commission issued its recommendations for the future of the Adirondacks in the twenty-first century. Peter searched UN documents at the headquarters in Manhattan to find out what a biosphere reserve was. My brother at the Penn State University was able to obtain documents from England and Australia, where environmental theorists had been developing the concept. We didn't like the main feature, a large core area where no human influences would be allowed, surrounded by a buffer area where human activity would be strictly limited.

Gov. Cuomo's commission report recommended all of the ideas that the environmentalists could not get past the legislature when the Adirondack Park Agency was created in 1973, plus a number of harsher features, such as a huge program of state land acquisition and a minimum lot size 2,000 acres per house on 87 percent of the land. The people rallied en masse and defeated every detail of the legislation. The law journal of the leading assemblyman behind the original APA law, who also headed the study commission and was president of the National Audubon Society, largely blamed Peter's and my lawsuit for the defeat of a statewide referendum to provide $2 billion to buy up Adirondack land. Our team of four in court and "the court of public opinion" also included taxpayer activist Robert Schulz and another friend.

Peter and I worked ceaselessly, against all odds, to defeat every working feature of the biosphere reserve designation. Almost no one else focused on it then and to this day, and gradually its worst features are being implemented by the state with the constant pressure of environmental groups, even without a formal biosphere reserve management agency going by that name.

The Big Picture

That is how these designations work: behind the scenes involving powerful, wealthy individual people and foundations, the exploitation of international influences, and fronts of environmental groups that present themselves as local, or else as national with local chapters. For the designation of the Adirondack Park, for instance, the Rockefellers-Laurence and his brother Governor Nelson Rockefeller-worked with New York's wealthy elite while the same elite funded environmental lobbying groups, such as the split-second establishment of the Sierra Club's Manhattan office, where I went personally to study a copy of the almost unavailable Adirondack Park land use plan early in 1973. I sat on the floor in a freshly painted office with no furniture and tolerated the admonition of a pure-hearted Sierra Club fanatic, "You can't live there."

Years of work have followed, but I wanted you to have a feeling of how we dug into the ugly depths of the environmental preservationist's dark worldview.

New threats kept arising. The UNESCO biosphere reserve program had an offspring, The Wildlands Program, basically a theoretical idea from professors in the new field of conservation biology and the old Earth First! radical David Foreman of monkey-wrenching notoriety. The program is similar to the biosphere reserve program, but rather than focusing on poor rural populations, including the forcible evacuation of historic peoples in developing countries, the various environmental groups and government agencies for The Wildlands Program insistently chip away on areas across all of rural America, working effectively with the greenways, National Parks, etc., and state agencies to accomplish the relentless goal of rural "re-wilding." They have made the word "wildlands" part of the lexicon, and, at least in the East, have succeeded in conveying that it is a sort of localized protection of nature.

Agenda 21 and ICLEI

Today a groundswell of citizens across the country are reacting to Agenda 21, which is a United Nations document that came out of the 1992 Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This gathering of government representatives from around the world agreed on Agenda 21 as their plan for a sustainable future. At the time, the wise use and private property rights movements did not take the document particularly seriously, because the threats to property rights that it augured were already old hat, menacing close at hand. Plus, the idea of sustainable development was already entrenched in the thinking of land use planners and the universities. Agenda 21's uniqueness appeared to be that it was a document full of bureaucratic buzzwords that exemplified the direction of extreme liberals and environmentalists.

However, during the past few years, Agenda 21 has sprouted wings and has taken off as a force in its own right, under the management of a once obscure organization that was known as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI (pronounced iklee). This international organization was founded in 1990 at the World Conference of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future at the United Nations in New York City, two years before the Earth Summit.

With the name "ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability" since 2003, this rather insidious organization, has been effectively promoting the UN Agenda 21 through its "Sustainable Communities" program. Based in Bonn, Germany, ICLEI has a US corporation based in Oakland, California. The official ICLEI public report states that its primary program is "Climate Action." On its web site, it claims that it has signed up more than 1,200 municipalities in seventy countries including the United States for its "Sustainable Communities" program, plus "hundreds of other local governments through international performance-based, results-oriented campaigns and programs."

ICLEI states that it is an independent 501(c) (3) nonprofit association, but has not responded to a PRFA request to view its IRS 990 financial report although it had income of $5,286,722 in 2010 according to an independent posting of summaries of nonprofit IRS reports. A pie-chart in ICLEI's public report on the web depicts that each of three program categories account for about one sixth of ICLEI's revenues: "Local government membership dues," "Program service fees-service contract," and "Program service fees-cost reimbursement." The remaining half of its revenues are from "Foundation/Trust Grants," with slivers accounting for the remaining income shown on the pie chart, which displays no numerical values.

Many attempts to obtain a copy of the ICLEI compact with the City of Saratoga Springs, the nearest government body listed in the nonprofit's roster of sixty local government members in New York State have been unsuccessful thus far. The New York State Attorney General's Office of Charities Registration has no record of ICLEI.

The ICLEI sustainable communities program is slick. It is high-minded, educational. It assists with access to grant programs. Even rural municipal leaders have warmed to land use planning after decades of pressure and familiarization. What could possibly be wrong with receiving a state grant for "smart growth" (urban revitalization and densification tied to tight restrictions to protect rural land, etc.), what could be harmful in passing zoning to "protect farmland," "what's wrong with green energy," etc.?

The ICLEI program is a well-funded twist to the threats posed by the international environmental movement to the private property rights of landowners. Even though the buzzword has been around for decades, the fashionableness of the "sustainable" idea is giving momentum to the ever-present mentality to increase land use controls that the well-educated cadre of planners all over the country see as their birthright and moral obligation. At the same time, the drift of the land use controls for sustainability deepens the layers of effort to depopulate rural America.

The insidiousness of all these programs is a source of power. It has been and will continue to be a top mission of the Property Rights Foundation of America to defend private property rights by exposing to light programs like these for all their ugliness, showing how they are actually motivated, how they turn out in real life-the economies of communities stifled or ruined, rural regions inexorably depopulated, farms hindered rather than propped up, and even the productivity and biodiversity of forests and rangeland diminished.

Your generosity toward the work of the Property Rights Foundation of America is of inestimable importance. Our work is unique and deserving of your support-and your specific help is greatly needed.

I hope that you will find it possible to donate to the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., at this time.

The Property Rights Foundation of America has been determined by the IRS to meet their standards for a 501(c) (3) organization. Contributions to the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., are deductible to the full extent of the law.

Thank you heartily in advance for your generous support.

With very best wishes,

Carol W. LaGrasse

A copy of the latest annual financial report of the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc. may be obtained from the organization or from the Office of the Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10271.

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