Schwarzkopf urges monetary support for environmental cause

March 12, 1993|By Peter Honey | Peter Honey,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf was back in front of the cameras yesterday with the same gravelly voice and the familiar 6-foot-3-inches of ruddy, cow-licked ebullience that characterized his command of the Persian Gulf War.

This time, though, he was campaigning for nature conservation and, instead of camouflage-print military fatigues, he wore a $600 pin-stripe suit and navy tie flecked with tiny, luminous green leaves.

The general, who retired after the gulf war victory with a $5 million book contract and seemingly endless speaking and touring engagements, appeared at a catered press conference here yesterday to publicize an ambitious effort by the Nature Conservancy to raise $300 million for coordinated conservation projects, including protection of thousands of acres of Chesapeake Bay watershed.

General Schwarzkopf said he joined the environmental organization's board of governors last summer because he had always been interested in conservation and the outdoors.

He hoped that his organizational skills would benefit the group, he said, and added: "I also have a public image which I hope will help to bring them more money."

The Conservancy started its "Last Great Places" project two years ago, planning ultimately to conserve 75 sensitive and endangered ecosystems throughout the United States, South and Central America and is lands of the Pacific and Caribbean basin, said president John C. Saw- hill. A $37 million private donation from the Putnam family of Cleveland, Ohio -- one of the largest private donations ever made to a conservation group -- had recently raised the fund beyond $160 million of its $300 million target, he said.

A third of the money will be used to buy land as permanent "core" conservation areas, or conservation easements in privately owned property. The rest of the money will be used for land management, management of existing reserves and area-specific conservation programs.

The Conservancy listed yesterday 40 of the conservation sites -- including 28 in the United States -- from desert dunes of the West to tall grass prairies and forests of the Midwest to river

basins, wetlands and barrier islands of the East.

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