Non-profit

Turner Endangered Species Fund

Website:

tesf.org/

Location:

ATLANTA, GA

Tax ID:

58-2324975

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)-PF

Budget (2014):

Revenue: $627,917
Expenses: $633,576
Assets: $34,752

The Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) is a private grantmaking foundation focused on protecting endangered and vulnerable species on private land owned by CNN founder Ted Turner. The group has also become vocal in supporting left-leaning environmental policies such as the Green New Deal, a far-left program to fundamentally reorient the American economic and social order. [1]

TESF was established by the billionaire cable television entrepreneur, Ted Turner, in 1997. With over 2 million acres of land, Turner is America’s second largest individual land owner. [2] TESF was co-founded by Mike Phillips, a biologist who later became a Democratic member of the Montana state legislature representing Bozeman and founded the Montana Legislative Climate Change Caucus. [3]

TESF focuses on using Turner’s private lands to protect species identified under federal and state endangered species laws. In support of these efforts TESF has received $185,000 in federal grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [4]

Founding

Turner met conservation biologist Mike Phillips in the 1990s while Phillips was employed at Yellowstone National Park. The two began discussing the use of Turner’s private wealth and private land to conserve species, and Turner asked Phillips to draft a plan. In his initial proposal, Phillips called the concept the Noah Project. He later recounted that “the notion was that private ranches could be viewed as arks of security for imperiled species.” [5]

In June of 1997, Turner and Phillips ultimately established two legal entities in pursuit of their vision, the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) and Turner Biodiversity Divisions (TBD). TESF is focused on species officially classified as endangered or vulnerable, opening it up to federal and state funding, whereas TBD works with the full breadth of species found on Turner’s 2 million acres of private lands. [6]

Key People

Ted Turner

Turner, worth approximately $2.2 billion, earned his wealth from founding such cable networks as CNN, TNT, and TBS. He further owned the Atlanta Braves professional baseball team and numerous smaller business interests. [7] Later in his life, Turner became an environmentalist activist. [8] He has donated heavily to political causes that support his environmentalist agenda, including $17 million to the League of Conservation Voters. [9] He was also an outspoken opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Mike Phillips

In 2006, while leading Turner Endangered Species Fund and Turner Biodiversity Divisions, Phillips ran for and won a seat in the Montana House of Representatives. He founded the Montana Legislative Climate Change Caucus and became Chairman of the Montana House Democratic Caucus; since 2013 he has served in the State Senate. As a state legislator he focused heavily on environmental policy, crafting and passing the nation’s most comprehensive law for sequestering carbon dioxide in geological formations. [10] In the fall of 2009, Phillips was recruited by the Obama White House to join a coalition of state legislators to help pass clean energy jobs and climate change legislation. [11]

Activities

Turner Endangered Species Fund uses Turner’s land and wealth to restore natural habitats, breed endangered species, and release them into the wild. [12]

Given that the animals receiving care from TESF have the ability to wander outside of Turner’s properties, much of the Fund’s work requires permits and close collaboration with state and federal agencies. Phillips stated that, “In many of these projects, we are just part of a bigger effort being shepherded by a state or federal agency.” [13] In support of its efforts, TESF has received $185,000 in federal grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [14]

Turner is said to have worked with the IRS to ensure that a portion of his wealth can be used to fund the administration of the Fund on his property well after his own death. [15]

Support for Environmentalist Policy

In January of 2019, TESF was listed as a signatory on an open letter to Congress in support of the Green New Deal. [16] The letter backed a number of far-left environmentalist austerity policies, including replacing approximately 90 percent of U.S. electricity generation within 15 years, eliminating all conventional-fuel automobiles by 2040, and holding energy companies liable for damages caused by climate change. [17]

References

  1. “Open Letter to Congress.” January 10, 2019. Accessed July 8, 2019. http://foe.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Progressive-Climate-Leg-Sign-On-Letter-2.pdf ^
  2. “#1057 Ted Turner.” Forbes. Accessed July 16, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/profile/ted-turner/#20840d2850db ^
  3. “Our Team – Mike Phillips.” Tesf.org. Accessed July 16, 2019. http://tesf.org/our-team/ ^
  4. “Turner Endangered Species Fund.” USASpending.org. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.usaspending.gov/#/search/76665223a2279af0af54b3fa5edb1d4b ^
  5. “An Interview With Senator Mike Phillips.” Voices for Biodiversity. December 2017. July 8, 2019. https://voicesforbiodiversity.org/articles/an-interview-with-senator-mike-phillips ^
  6. “About Us.” Tesf.org. Accessed July 16, 2019. http://tesf.org/about-us/ ^
  7. “#1057 Ted Turner.” Forbes. Accessed July 16, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/profile/ted-turner/#20840d2850db ^
  8. “Our Team – Ted Turner.” Tesf.org. Accessed July 16, 2019. http://tesf.org/our-team/ ^
  9. “Profile: Ted Turner.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed July 16, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/glitzy-giving/ted-turner.html ^
  10. “Our Team – Mike Phillips.” Tesf.org. Accessed July 16, 2019. http://tesf.org/our-team/ ^
  11. “Our Team – Mike Phillips.” Tesf.org. Accessed July 16, 2019. http://tesf.org/our-team/ ^
  12. “About Us.” Tesf.org. Accessed July 16, 2019. http://tesf.org/about-us/ ^
  13. “An Interview With Senator Mike Phillips.” Voices for Biodiversity. December 2017. July 8, 2019. https://voicesforbiodiversity.org/articles/an-interview-with-senator-mike-phillips ^
  14. “Search Results: Turner Endangered Species Fund.” USASpending.org. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.usaspending.gov/#/search/76665223a2279af0af54b3fa5edb1d4b ^
  15. “An Interview With Senator Mike Phillips.” Voices for Biodiversity. December 2017. July 8, 2019. https://voicesforbiodiversity.org/articles/an-interview-with-senator-mike-phillips ^
  16. “Open Letter to Congress.” January 10, 2019. Accessed July 8, 2019. http://foe.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Progressive-Climate-Leg-Sign-On-Letter-2.pdf ^
  17. “Green New Deal Supporters Use Taxpayer Dollars.” Capital Research Center. June 21, 2019. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://capitalresearch.org/article/green-new-deal-supporters-use-taxpayer-dollars/ ^

Associated Organizations

  1. Turner Foundation (Non-profit)

Supported Movements

  1. Green New Deal (GND)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1997

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2014 Dec Form PF $627,917 $633,576 $34,752 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $624,311 $619,882 $40,411 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $559,247 $553,673 $35,982 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $599,809 $616,771 $30,408 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Turner Endangered Species Fund

    133 LUCKIE STREET
    ATLANTA, GA 30303