Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Sponsors $5,000 A Week Junkets – Funded By A Wall Street Billionaire – To Entertain Their “Conservation Community” Friends

Murphy DEP Sponsors $5,000 A Week Junkets – Funded By A Wall Street Billionaire – To Entertain Their “Conservation Community” Friends

A Shameful Episode

Beyond Regulatory Capture – A Billionaire Buys Bureaucrats & Conservationists

Note that financial support from Hudson Farms is not disclosed as a sponsor

DEP Program Logo – Note that financial support from Hudson Farms is not disclosed as a sponsor

At a time when many NJ residents can’t rub 2 nickels together, are worrying about paying rent and basic living expenses, the planet is burning, and local community activists are demanding an end to DEP logging of State forested lands in the Highlands Preservation Area, the NJ DEP created, organized, and sponsored two week long luxury junkets – called a “Conservation leadership program“- for 15 DEP managers and their “conservation community” friends and political supporters who just so happen to be promoting joint DEP logging projects (just more of the “Elite Charade”).

“Conservation” organizations who attended these soirees include NJ Audubon, a group who is working with DEP on the controversial Sparta Mountain WMA and other Highlands logging projects. Not surprisingly, elites from the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited were involved, but sadly, NJ Conservation Foundation also jumped on board this disgusting gravy train.

Adding insult to injury, I learned of theses junkets after being disgusted by an outrageously false, darkly cynical, and opportunistic promotional letter from NJ Audubon CEO Eric Stiles, who actually had the balls to claim some kind of leadership in the black lives matter movement. Stiles recently wrote (full letter provided upon request):

Dear Members and Supporters,

New Jersey Audubon cannot be silent in addressing the incidents of racial injustice that have roiled our country in recent weeks which include the tragic death of George Floyd and an act of discrimination against Christian Cooper, a Board Member of New York City Audubon, in Central Park. New Jersey Audubon extends our hearts and action to the families and communities that have been victimized and marginalized for far too long. New Jersey Audubon stands with you and always will.

Right. Are you fucking kidding me? NJ Audubon as champion of racial justice????

The billionaire funded DEP “conservation leadership” program was the brainchild of and created by DEP. It was funded by Wall Street billionaire Peter Kellogg, owner of an elite hunting compound in Sussex County known as Hudson Farms.

Regular readers here may recall that I blasted Kellogg and Hudson Farms for providing a $140,000 grant to NJ Audubon to prepare the controversial logging plan for Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area, see:

I’ve since learned that billionaire Kellogg’s Hudson Farms Foundation funding of NJ Audubon has more than doubled, to over $330,000.

One of the DEP soirees was held at Kellogg’s private Hudson Farms.

And of course PSE&G – who seeks to reap millions of dollars in profits by leveraging regulatory influence with DEP programs – including the DEP’s PACT climate regulations, carbon sequestration, and various mitigation programs now under development by DEP- couldn’t keep their grubby corporate hands out of and sponsored these junkets.

Several DEP manager attended the two weeklong junkets (several of whom are directly involved in the Sparta Mountain dispute). They include:

  • *Dave Golden, NJ DEP DFW *(clarification: only attended 1 day)
  • *John Sacco, NJ DEP DPF (*did not attend, member of planning committee)
  • *Todd Wykoff, NJ DEP DFP (*did not attend, member of planning committee)
  • Robert Auermuller, NJ DEP, DPF
  • Elizabeth Dragon, Coastal land Use Enforcement
  • Larry Fink, Green Acres
  • Jason Hearon, NJ DEP DFW
  • Chris Kunz, NJ DEP, BFWF&M
  • Tony McBride, NJ DEP DFW
  • Joshua Osowski,   NJ DEP State Parks
  • Sharon Petzinger, NJ DEP DFW
  • Kimberly Rennick, NJ DEP Project Manager
  • Courtney Wald-Wittkop, NJ DEP Green Acres
  • Brian Zarate, NJ DEP DFW
  • Bill Zipse, NJ Forst Service

How much did this cost State government to send 15 professionals for 2 weeks? Were these people paid while on these week long Wall Street funded and corporate PSE&G sponsored influence peddling junkets?

How much worse can it get?

Here is how one of the “conservation leaders” from NJ who attended both events – who obviously is feeling guilty after I asked about it – described the junkets:

in January I spent a week at Hudson Farms, on Kellog’s dime, as part of the New Jersey Conservation Leadership Program inaugural cohort (see info attached). The program was the brainchild of Dave Golden w/ NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife. It also included a week at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV last October. Our cohort was wined and dined. And not just on propaganda. Kellog knows how to treat folks right. It’s delightful up there. Please don’t judge! I did not realize who was bankrolling the program when I applied.

The training itself, adaptive management work, is really quite useful. The rest of the experience was an eye opener, and depressing. Almost to a person the folks in my cohort are timid, and/or were already bought before participation in the program.

Here is the “program overview”. Note that the “tuition” is $4,850 for the weeklong event.

Here is the “purpose” – and note that logging is not included as a cause of fragmentation or “pressure” from “anthropogenic influences”:

Wildlife and natural habitats in New Jersey are under increasing pressure from expanding development, sea-level rise, habitat fragmentation caused by high road density, and other anthropogenic influences. When technical fixes alone cannot alleviate threats to conservation, adaptive problem solving becomes a key component to finding solutions. In a state like New Jersey, it is especially important to understand the complexities of the human element in conservation planning, management, and success.

Complexities of the “Human element? You mean complexities like the folks in Sparta NJ who are disgusted by DEP and billionaire Kellogg funded NJ Audubon logging of Highlands forests?

And look at how these elite, selfish, self promotional bastards view themselves in stating their “Vision”:

Elevate conservation in New Jersey by building extraordinary leadership throughout our conservation community. By providing our employees with adaptive leadership skills from a high-trust, shared learning experience, we will develop a network of highly effective professionals capable of magnify our individual or organizational outputs into exceptional collective accomplishments

Do they really believe their bullshit? That they are “extraordinary leaders” producing “exceptional collective accomplishments”? Delusional.

Heads should roll for this kind of Orwellian and manipulative bullshit that seeks to co-opt conservation groups and other professionals.

I want to know if the DEP attendees were paid and collected their DEP paycheck for these vacation weeks.

Can someone file OPRA requests for their time sheets they filed for the two weeks of these events and find out?

This needs to be widely shamed.

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