Fort Garland, Colo.—A Middlebury alumnus and trustee has offered to donate a conservation easement on 90,000 acres of land in southern Colorado to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The easement will shield the land from development, preserving an area that includes grasslands, alpine forests, and some of the state’s highest mountain peaks. It will provide the foundation for a proposed new Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area, which will become part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
This is the latest gift in a long history of conservation philanthropy for Louis Bacon ’79, founder, chairman, CEO, and principal investment manager of Moore Capital Management, a $15-billion hedge fund. The land to be protected is part of his Trinchera Blanca Ranch in the San Luis Valley. The Trinchera section of the ranch is already protected by an easement held by Colorado Open Lands. The new easement will cover the Blanca section of the ranch, so all of its 172,000 acres will be secure from development.
“This is the largest single conservation easement ever donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and it happens to be in one of the most beautiful places in the country,” said Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. “Thanks to Louis Bacon’s deep commitment to conservation, we will now be able to preserve a diverse mosaic of public and private lands, creating a landscape corridor for fish and wildlife unlike any other place in America.”
Through The Moore Charitable Foundation, Bacon has advocated for the protection and conservation of natural resources for more than two decades, working with more than 100 conservation organizations. He led a successful campaign to protect 208 acres for the creation of the Clifton Heritage National Park in the Bahamas and donated a conservation easement on Robins Island to create a haven for shorebirds in Peconic Bay, Long Island. He is one of the founders of Waterkeeper Alliance, which promotes fishable, swimmable, and drinkable waterways worldwide; he is a leading supporter of Riverkeeper, an advocacy group that protects the Hudson River; and he has helped the Everglades Foundation to protect Florida wetlands from pollution.
Bacon’s unwavering commitment to land and water conservation has been recognized by The Nature Conservancy, and he was the 2010 recipient of the Ranch Conservationist of the Year award from the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts. In January, the National Audubon Society will present him with the Audubon Medal, given in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of conservation and environmental protection. The medal—one of the highest honors in conservation—has been awarded to only 51 people in Audubon's 107-year history.
“I have worked on a number of conservation and preservation projects in the United States and overseas, but nothing with the scope and importance of my efforts on Trinchera Blanca Ranch,” Bacon said. “This action will protect the ranch in perpetuity and create a key connection in the large, diverse system of protected lands here along the Sangre de Cristo range and in the San Luis Valley.”
“Louis’s remarkable achievements in the field of conservation make him an example and an inspiration for our students.”
—Ronald D. Liebowitz
President, Middlebury College
The diverse landscapes within the borders of the ranch feature breathtaking vistas of high desert shrubs and mountain grasslands, combined with alpine forest and tundra. The area stretches up to the top of one of the highest peaks in Colorado, Blanca Peak, at 14,345 feet above sea level. It falls in the center of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, the longest mountain chain in the United States, and borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
Bacon attributes his deep interest in environmental conservation to his grandfather and namesake, who was a forceful preservationist in eastern North Carolina. “From his position in the local chamber of commerce, he battled to make businesses realize the long-term economic benefit of protecting environmental and cultural heritage from short-sighted, destructive development,” Bacon said. “I believe the battle to preserve nature is a worthy one for both the community and for commerce.”
Nan Jenks-Jay, Middlebury College’s Dean of Environmental Affairs, observed that conservation easements on working landscapes like Bacon’s ranch not only protect the rural landscape and vital wildlife habitat, but also help to ensure that ranching, farming, and other traditional ways of life remain strong. She notes that the Trinchera Blanca Ranch offers rich learning experiences for Middlebury students during Winter Term, helping to educate and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders.
Noting Middlebury College’s long-standing commitment to environmental education and sustainability, President Ronald D. Liebowitz said that the College is proud to have Bacon as an alumnus and trustee. “Louis’s remarkable achievements in the field of conservation make him an example and an inspiration for our students,” he said. “His generosity and dedication to preserving our national heritage ensure a better future for all Americans. We hope our students will go on to provide the same kind of visionary leadership to continue his legacy.”
Bacon’s philanthropic efforts are matched only by his stellar career success. Prior to founding Moore Capital Management in 1989, Bacon spent six years with Shearson Lehman Brothers, where he served in various positions up to senior vice president of futures. He also held trading positions at Bankers Trust, the New York Cotton Exchange, and Walter N. Frank & Co., a specialist firm on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.