From shark and community funding out West, to clean water and cancer prevention collaboration: a week in review from Louis Bacon’s Moore Charitable Foundation

The Moore Charitable Foundation (MCF) and founder Louis Bacon are focused on driving conservation impact more than ever this year in our priority areas and regions. During the month of February, on our social channels and through MCF’s website we will focus on grantees in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, sharing news of their initiatives and conservation concerns/opportunities, and will publish “white papers” about land, water and wildlife habitat restoration in the West. As well, as always, we will continue to follow the progress of all our partners from across the country and in The Bahamas and Panama.

MCF is proud to support conservation efforts that protect the most beautiful parts of our country including the iconic wild spaces of the American West.

MCF is proud to support conservation efforts that protect the most beautiful parts of our country including the iconic wild spaces of the American West.

Here are just a few of the highlights of the past ten days:

Conejos Clean Water (Trinchera Blanca Foundation grantee) 2016 rafting trip on the Rio Grande.

Conejos Clean Water (Trinchera Blanca Foundation grantee) 2016 rafting trip on the Rio Grande.

1. Two pieces of news from Colorado demonstrated how, in 2016, MCF supported local conservation and communities efforts to provide critical services, enact meaningful conservation projects and protect important natural resources. Trinidad’s Chronicle-News published that MCF local affiliate Tercio Foundation contributed almost $90,000 to non-profit organizations in the greater Stonewall and Trinidad communities; and from Fort Garland came news that affiliate The Trinchera Blanca Foundation provided more than $300,000 to local conservation and community groups, the majority of which was allocated to groups in the San Luis Valley.

The giving strategy was critically informed by staff and leadership at Tercio Ranch and Trinchera Blanca Ranch respectively. We thank our trusted leadership there for their thoughtful insights.

2. Florida International University released news that scientists have discovered what is probably a new species of hammerhead shark, prompting concerns about the species’ vulnerability and whether conservation practices in place today are widespread enough to protect them. The data that led to this definitive finding was obtained in part during a 2016 shark tagging expedition, funded by a grant from Louis Bacon’s Moore Bahamas Foundation.

Demian Chapman examines a specimen of what is believed to be an unidentified species of hammerhead shark. Credit: Florida International University

Demian Chapman examines a specimen of what is believed to be an unidentified species of hammerhead shark. Credit: Florida International University

We commend the entire research team from Stony Brook University, Florida International University, University of North Florida and the Field Museum of Chicago, and especially FIU lead marine research scientist Damien Chapman on their important work that is forwarding shark conservation globally.

3. We traveled to Washington D.C. for National Cancer Prevention Day on February 2nd, and participated in discussions, lectures and a town hall meeting in support of our partner Less Cancer. We were thrilled that Mae Wu, JD, Senior Attorney, Health Program of Natural Resources Defense Council was able to speak. National Cancer Prevention Day is a resolution introduced by Representative Steve Israel that highlights Less Cancer’s efforts to bring attention to cancer prevention, educating citizens about behavioral and environmental risks linked to cancer.

4. We attended this year’s first in-person meeting of the Long Island Sound Funders Collaborative in support of advancing the critical clean water mandate on the East End. Clean water, both to drink and in ponds and bays, is high on the 2017 agenda for local and state lawmakers, and we’ll look forward to exciting initiatives coming soon.

5. The Taos Ski Valley has its Grand Opening of the Blake Hotel. A major congratulations to the entire Ski Taos team on their fabulous and Herculean effort. As the Taos News eloquently published this week, the hotel is “truly a celebration of the Taos melting pot and adheres to our common environmentally friendly mindset and that of conservationist owner Louis Bacon, who bought the resort in 2013.” Bravo!

EPA Expresses “Deep Concern” Over Discriminatory Impacts of Industrial Hog Operations in North Carolina

Published first by Waterkeeper Alliance.

CHAPEL HILL, NC – In a January 12th letter to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) External Civil Rights Compliance Office expressed “deep concern” that the State’s failure to adequately regulate more than 2,200 industrial hog operations has a disparate, discriminatory impact on African American, Latino, and Native American communities in eastern North Carolina. The letter was sent to NCDEQ in connection with EPA’s ongoing investigation into a federal civil rights complaint filed in September 2014 by the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), and Waterkeeper Alliance. The groups are represented in this matter by Earthjustice and the UNC Center For Civil Rights.

EPA’s “Letter of Concern” urges NCDEQ to take immediate steps to address the discriminatory impacts of the State’s swine waste management system. For decades, state law has allowed industrial swine operations to dispose of hog waste using lagoon and sprayfield systems, which store hog feces and urine in open-air, unlined pits before spraying this waste onto fields. As part of their investigation, EPA officials have evaluated scientific research and reports showing that North Carolina’s African American, Latino, and Native American residents are disproportionately likely to live near industrial hog operations and suffer the effects of these outdated waste management systems.

EPA’s documented concerns come three months after community members from eastern North Carolina traveled to Washington, D.C. and urged agency officials to visit the region to better understand the health and environmental impacts that industrial hog operations have on communities of color. EPA officials made the trip to North Carolina last November as part of a fact-finding effort that yielded testimony from 85 residents who live in close proximity to these facilities.

In light of this testimony, EPA’s letter recognizes that many communities of color in eastern North Carolina are left to contend with the cumulative impacts of living and working near numerous sources of pollution. “This is part of a broader environmental justice issue in North Carolina,” says NCEJN co-director, Naeema Muhammad. “The same African American, Latino, and Native American communities living near these swine operations also live near a growing number of poultry facilities, landfills, and other land uses that other people are able to refuse.”

EPA’s letter stands in stark contrast to the responses that community members have historically received from NCDEQ. “We have tried to work with NCDEQ for fifteen years, in hopes of getting better regulation and oversight of industrial hog operations, but those efforts have been futile,” says REACH Executive Director, Devon Hall. “After years of telling state officials about the horrendous impacts these facilities have on our daily lives, it is clear that the federal government shares our concern that the State is failing to comply with civil rights laws.”

NCDEQ’s treatment of concerned community members and the state regulator’s friendly relationship with representatives of the pork industry are also scrutinized in the letter from EPA. EPA officials expressed “grave concerns” regarding the longstanding intimidation and hostility that community members have faced from industry representatives when they voice their concerns to the state agency.

“For far too long, NCDEQ has prioritized customer service for the benefit of polluters instead of environmental protection for the benefit of all North Carolinians,” says Will Hendrick, Waterkeeper Alliance Staff Attorney. “We are glad EPA shared our concerns and are hopeful that the new NCDEQ administration will view this as an opportunity to take long overdue action.”

NCEJN, REACH, and Waterkeeper Alliance filed an additional complaint with EPA after members of the National Pork Producers Council arrived at what was supposed to have been a confidential mediation session between the community groups and NCDEQ in January 2016.

EPA’s letter to NCDEQ concludes with key recommendations that the state agency should take immediate steps to implement. EPA recognizes that available, alternative waste management technologies would decrease pollution and odor caused by the use of lagoon and sprayfield systems. EPA also calls on NCDEQ to institute a “functioning nondiscrimination program,” including the introduction of staff and procedures to handle complaints from the public.

NCEJN, REACH, and Waterkeeper Alliance hope that NCDEQ will adopt these recommendations, and look forward to working with state leadership to bring long-awaited changes to North Carolina’s regulation of swine facilities.

Louis Bacon and The Moore Charitable Foundation affiliate The Orton Foundation are proud partners of North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), Waterkeeper Alliance and UNC Center For Civil Rights.

Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens, Local Missions and Coalitions – Food for Thought for Giving and Action

The holiday season sees many of us indulging in the sport of eating and drinking. But in every county and congressional district in the country, Americans are going hungry – or are one job loss or medical crisis away from food insecurity.

The Moore Charitable Foundation (MCF) partners with several groups who address this national crisis on a local level – and some on a national platform. From food pantries and soup kitchens to local missions and coalitions, here are a few groups who are either helping the neediest of their communities or keeping the issues of access to good food and policy on the front burners of the nation. Some websites may not be fancy, or even exist at all. No matter – these people are getting the job done. MCF and Founder Louis Bacon tip our hats to all, and hope readers will be inspired to give of their time or money to the below – or wherever it moves you. Happy holidays!

Oak Island Inter Church Food Pantry
Boiling Spring Lakes, NC — (910) 845-2320

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MCF team members talk with Bill Hogue, who runs the Southport Oak Island Inter Church Fellowship Food Pantry.

We recently visited Bill Hogue, the manager of the Southport Oak Island Inter Church Fellowship Food Pantry in Boiling Spring Lakes, and were humbled by his operation. To qualify to receive goods monthly, recipients must show proof that they live in Southport, Oak Island, Boiling Spring Lakes or Sunset Harbor. Once qualified they can shop once a month.

Towncreek Vision Weekly Food Pantry
Leland, NC — (910) 443-7111

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The MCF team tours Towncreek Vision. The food pantry provided Christmas boxes of food to community members – funded by MCF affiliate The Orton Foundation

We also had the chance to visit the great folks at Towncreek Vision. Here, each and every week on Wednesday, the doors are open to help feed those who otherwise may not have any food to eat for the week. Since starting the food pantry, Towncreek Vision’s pantry has grown to feeding over 400 people every month. Over the holidays, MCF affiliate The Orton Foundation was happy to fund Christmas food boxes for those in need.

Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley
Alamosa, CO — (719) 589-4567

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The Food Bank Network meets immediate needs and empowers people to live independently with dignity by providing emergency food packages to families and individuals throughout the San Luis Valley.

Fishers Peak Soup Kitchen
Trinidad, Colorado — (719) 680-0427
The Fisher’s Peak Soup Kitchen provides more than 800 free meals per month to Trinidad-area people who lack the resources to access good nutrition.

The Bowery Mission
New York, NY — (212) 674-3456

maxresdefaultSince 1879, The Bowery Mission has served homeless, hungry and poor New Yorkers. Meals, shelter, and medical care lead to residential programs that offer men and women the opportunity to transform their lives. Children get a positive first chance through summer camp, mentoring and family support. A vital part of the Lower East Side, The Bowery Mission now offers new hope to neighborhoods like Harlem and the South Bronx.

Food Policy Action (FPA)
This is a mouthful (no pun intended), but it’s all true: FPA’s mission is to highlight the importance of food policy and to promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm animals humanely and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production. Food Policy Action promotes positive policies through education and publication of the National Food Policy Scorecard.

Just Food NYC
Just Food empowers and supports community leaders to advocate for and increase access to healthy, locally-grown food, especially in underserved NYC neighborhoods.

Revitalizing Communities, Restoring the Environment, Inspiring Productive Lives and Building Civic Spirit: Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

A significant collaborator in combatting some of Taos’s most significant threats – fire, water quantity and quality, forest health – The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) uses conservation-based projects as the classroom for personal and professional development and training. Specifically, for the last 10 years, RMYC has had a significant impact on the forests of New Mexico, and in Taos County, by deploying crews to undergo thinning activities with the goals of restoring the diversity of flaura and fauna, reintroducing fire into the natural process, preventing catastrophic crown fire, educating the public about the role of fire, and providing fire wood for low income residents.

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The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps: inspiring youth to preserve the environmental and cultural and historical integrity of the NM region.

As a youth corps, RMYC was also created to address more than just conservation. Their process and outcomes are meant to revitalize communities, preserve and restore the environment, prepare young people for responsible, productive lives and build civic spirit through service. Specifically, their goals are:

  • to provide local youth ages 16-25 with meaningful employment opportunities;
  • to inspire young people of all backgrounds to engage in community service; and
  • to preserve the environmental, cultural and historical integrity of the NM region.

RMYC is clearly a stepping stone to new opportunities. It’s inspiring young adults to make a positive difference in themselves and their communities. Through training and team service, corpsmembers discover their potential for healthy, productive lives.

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Rocky Mountain Youth Corps deploys crews to undergo thinning activities to address forest health.

Furthermore, they are a major area player. They have been contributing to the Taos County Wildfire Protection Plan, collaborating with the Taos County Watershed Alliance, and are a signatory of the Rio Grande Water Fund.  Participation in these collaborative efforts are key to building comprehensive strategies to combat some of Taos’s most significant threats.  In addition, they partner with many area non-profits, including the Taos Land Trust to build cohesion and community wide support for land conservation.

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps builds civic spirit through service.

Louis Bacon and The Taos Ski Valley Foundation, an affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation are proud to support RMYC this season. We hope you will too. Learn more about RMYC here.

P.S. – A call to eligible youth: We noticed on their website that RMYC is now hiring young adults to serve on their spring conservation crews in both Taos and Albuquerque starting in March. Crew members will earn First Aid and CPR certification, project-specific training such as Forest Worker Safety Certification or backcountry skills, as well as a number of other professional development topics. Benefits include a living stipend and an Education Award upon successful completion of the program. Learn more about the opportunity for graduating students, students who have recently obtained a GED, young adults interested in conservation work, students transitioning to the workforce, or anyone looking for a meaningful experience with a group of peers here.

 

Beyond Coal to 100% Ready – Sierra Club’s moving us from dependency to a clean bright future

In the Season Finale of Season 2 of National Geographic’s The Years of Living Dangerously America Fererra goes inside Sierra Club‘s Beyond Coal campaign, talking to the people at the heart of the fight to move their city from coal to clean energy. At Louis Bacon‘s The Moore Charitable Foundation, we are proud to have partnered with Sierra Club on this stellar national campaign that is mobilizing grassroots activists in local communities to advocate for the retirement of old and outdated coal plants and to prevent new coal plants from being built. Essentially: replacing dirty coal with clean energy.

And beyond Beyond Coal, Sierra Club also has launched another global movement: Ready for 100. It’s a move towards no less that 100% Clean Energy, reflecting a transition that is underway around the world, away from an energy system powered by increasingly expensive and unsustainable fossil fuel resources toward one powered fully by abundant, local, and affordable renewable energy sources. In the years ahead, this transition is poised to improve the quality of life for millions, reduce harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and help forge a world that is more just and equitable for both current and future generations.

Recently, in their year-end newsletter, Sierra Club talked about the role of cities in this big transition. Did you know that cities can deliver 40 percent of all the carbon savings needed to limit global warming to the safe climate threshold of 1.5℃? And that smart mayors are increasingly the agents of change towards sustainable energy futures for millions of people?  So no matter what happens in D.C., the Ready for 100 campaign’s work to foster the growing movement of cities that are pulling the plug on fossil fuels takes on a new importance.

2016 marked the beginning of an acceleration of the pace and scale of action for cities to lead the transition away from fossil fuels. Twenty cities in the U.S. are now committed to run on 100% clean, renewable energy within the next two decades. This month, Sierra Club had the opportunity to sit down with weather anchor Sam Champion to feature Ready for 100’s success and explain how from coast to coast, cities like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and St. Petersburg are making major strides toward a healthier environment and a more vibrant economy powered by renewable energy. Check out the five-minute segment that ran on The Weather Channel here:

As the Sierra Club says, “accelerating an equitable transition to 100% clean, renewable energy requires a shift in how people perceive its feasibility and how they experience the benefits. By making tangible local progress and securing strong commitments to 100% clean energy, Ready for 100 is showing that cities are ready to lead and that 100% renewable energy is achievable. As more and more cities commit, the movement for a healthier planet and a stronger economy will continue to flourish.”

Thank you to this great organization for moving us all from dependency on fossil fuels towards a bright, clean future. Get inspired and make a year end donation now so that Sierra Club can continue to accelerate change locally and build from the bottom-up in 2017.