UM Forestry and Conservation Program Tied to Wyss Cash

Organizations Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss (photo: Wyss Foundation).

A Media Trackers investigation into the philanthropic efforts of left-wing Swiss billionaire, Hansjorg Wyss, has revealed that the University of Montana’s Environmental Studies Program and College of Forestry and Conservation receives funding from The Wyss Foundation as part of fellowship and scholars program which trains young environmental activists.

Wyss — who serves as a board member for the liberal Center for American Progress and is a noted supporter of the Clinton Foundation — has been gaining increasing attention in Montana for his involvement and financial support of power left-wing environmental groups. He also generated headlines earlier in the week when The Daily Caller reported that he had paid $1.5 million to settle sex abuse allegations.

The Wyss foundation’s “Fellows and Scholars Program for the Conservation of the American West” educates students in environmental fields; providing them funding for half of the entire cost of tuition for several schools including the University of Montana. The scholarship funding is contingent upon the students also gaining employment in an environmental field upon graduation.

According to the foundation’s website, “Wyss Scholars learn the latest in conservation science and policy and apply that knowledge in careers at land management agencies and nonprofit conservation groups. Wyss Scholarships are awarded to students currently enrolled at one of the four host schools at the end of their first semester.”

A training manual recently produced by the Wilderness Society’s “Wild Forever Future Campaign,” highlights the Wyss Foundation’s Fellowship and Scholars program as a “successful model” in training environmental leaders to pursue the organizations goals for the future. The society’s website states that “Since 1935, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect nearly 110 million acres of wilderness in 44 states— We have been at the forefront of nearly every major public lands victory.”    

Schools qualifying for the Wyss programs include The University of Montana Environmental Studies Program and College of Forestry and Conservation, Yale University School of Forestry, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, and Northern Arizona University.

A March, 2015 report issued by the University of Montana Foundation announced that two students from the UM College of Forestry and Conservation and Environmental Studies Program at the College of Humanities and Sciences had been granted Wyss scholarships for the coming school year. The report also quotes the UM Foundation as stating that “For UM, the Wyss Scholars Program has been invaluable in recruiting and retaining world-class graduate students.”

High profile Montana conservation activist and Montana Wilderness Association lobbyist Clayton Elliot was named a Wyss Scholar in 2009.

Wyss Foundation money has been proven quite valuable in recent years to liberal environmental causes in Montana. The Montana Wildlife Federation has collected over $1.2 million dollars in donations from the Wyss Foundation. Wyss has also recently been active with the controversial group, The American Prairie Reserve, which seeks to buy up northern Montana ranches and move bison herds onto the properties in an effort to lay the groundwork for the possible establishment of a new national monument by the Obama Administration.

Despite his work in environmentalism and efforts to project the image of an international philanthropist, a recent report revealed that the billionaire has a long history of sex abuse allegations. Wyss’ history includes allegations of years-long systematic sexual brutality, a $1.5 million settlement with a former employee in Colorado, and a separate lawsuits in-which “sexually offensive incidents” were not disputed by the billionaire’s attorneys.

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