New York Attorney General closes inquiry into Nature Conservancy's US$9.8M sale to the state of 20,000 acres of Adirondack forest, finds transaction complied with all relevant laws

LOS ANGELES , May 12, 2011 () – A year-long investigation by New York's Attorney General's office into the US$9.8M Adirondack forest deal between the state and the Nature Conservancy has found that nothing improper took place, the Times-Union reported on May 11.

Rachel Doft, assistant attorney general in the Public Integrity Bureau, said in a May 6 letter that the office of the Attorney General is no longer pursuing its investigation. She continued: "The Attorney General found that The Nature Conservancy complied with all relevant laws, regulations and policies in connection with those transactions and has concluded its inquiry at this time."

The investigation focused on The Nature Conservancy's sale in 2008 to the state of about 20,000 acres in Clinton County that were added to the forever-wild Forest Preserve. It was launched a year ago by then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo after allegations by the New York Post that the conservancy profited excessively from sale of the land, which it had purchased four years earlier from Domtar.

The Nature Conservancy paid Domtar US$6.3 million for the land and sold it to the state for $9.8 million. The Post alleged that the conservancy made millions on the deal, but did not report that it also spent $3.4 million on voluntary local property taxes, interest on a private loan used to buy the land, and surveying and subdivision legal costs. That meant the sale yielded a profit of about $100,000, or less than 2%.

"The Nature Conservancy is pleased with the outcome described in the letter and proud to work in partnership with New York State to protect ecologically and economically important lands for the benefit of people and nature," said conservancy spokeswoman Connie Prickett.

The primary source of this article is the Times-Union, Albany, New York, on May 11, 2011.

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