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Edited wills and board resignations, Catalina Conservancy implodes (photos)

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The L.A. Times reports three board members of the Catalina Conservancy —  a 15-member organization that manages nine-tenths of Santa Catalina Island — resigned last week, bringing the total to 10 officials and scientists who've recently jumped ship.

The departed parties point to Executive Director Ann Muscat's "controversial leadership style and differences over the direction she is taking the 40-year-old Catalina Island Conservancy." Some members are also concerned over Muscat's salary and expenses.

Muscat, a marine biologist hired a decade ago, is pushing development of new tourist attractions to bring badly needed revenue to the conservancy and the island's tourism-oriented businesses. The conservancy manages most of the island's wild lands, operating on $12 million a year from donations and earned revenue.

At least some of the conflicts stem from a disagrement about the emphasis of tourism over conservation. To the displeasure of some of the board Muscat has been promoting plans to fund conservation programs by creating a gift shop and upgrading destination spots.

Ex-board member Roy Rose says he's made a $10 million revision to his will and written out the Conservancy.


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