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Re: CORRECTION - E-M:/ Nature Conservancy's "working forest" fantasy unravels in lawsuits

The organization involved is the Leelanau Conservancy, NOT The Nature Conservancy.

The article clearly does not give enough information to make an informed judgement about this issue.  You would need to read the actual conservation easement, the baseline documentation, and supporting documents.  If the owners obtained a tax deduction for the conservation easement, the easement would need to require that the significant conservation values of the property are protected in perpetuity.

Jack Smiley
Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy

-----Original Message-----
From: harrisc <Craig.Harris@ssc.msu.edu>
To: 'enviro-mich' <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Sent: Wed, 30 Apr 2008 7:39 pm
Subject: E-M:/ Nature Conservancy's "working forest" fantasy unravels in lawsuits

apologies if this was posted earlier and i missed it . . .
Fred Jr. and Janet Roth, through their attorney Donald J. Molosky of Petoskey, filed a complaint and demand for a jury trial against the Conservancy on Thursday, April 17 in 13th Circuit Court. Molosky also filed a motion to dismiss the Conservancy’s lawsuit against the couple. The Conservancy on March 13 filed suit in Circuit Court against the Roths and Lonnie Sparks, owner of a timber company in Kalamazoo, to stop Sparks from cutting select trees on the 43-acre parcel that surrounds an access way into the Whaleback Natural Area. Conservancy officials objected to a planned harvest of trees on the parcel, which they claimed violated the conservation easement agreement between the property owners and the land preservation group. The Roth’s suit alleges misconduct by the Conservancy for violating terms of the conservation easement, further contending that Conservancy officials or their representatives may only enter the property at reasonable times and may not interfere with the Roth’s enjoyment of the land. The suit also contends the Conservancy has no right to permit others to enter the property for purposes unrelated to the conservation easement, and the general public is not allowed on the property. In addition, the suit alleges the Conservancy has made false statements and representations that it owns the property. Also alleged: fraudulent and innocent misrepresentation; interference with business relations; termination of the easement agreement and quiet title; trespass; defamation; and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Speaking from their seasonal residence in Scottsdale, Ariz., Tuesday, Janet Roth said the Conservancy’s suit was very aggressive, and she and her husband felt they had to respond in like fashion. “Their suit was unnecessary. Since they sued us, it is our obligation to do the same because they have slandered us with (an Enterprise) article and their lawsuit,” she said. Roth said they were also upset that the article stated the couple declined to comment on the suit. She said they were never contacted by the newspaper. In fact, the Enterprise contacted the Roths for comment, but received a return call too late to be included in that week’s edition. “All they want to see is their rights protected,” Molosky said. “The Conservancy jumped the gun with their lawsuit.” http://www.leelanaunews.com/blog/2008/04/28/couple-responds-sues-conservancy/

craig k harris
department of sociology
michigan agricultural experiment station
national food safety and toxicology center
institute for food and agricultural standards
michigan state university