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.

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. Photo (c) Conejos Clean Water

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. Photo (c) FIU

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!

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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
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
Since 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.

Protecting the watersheds of San Luis Valley’s Rio Grande River: conservation of the Rio Culebra Ranch and acequia

The Rio Grande originates in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, in the Rocky Mountain Range. It is the fourth largest river in the US, serving as a partial border between the US and Mexico and stretching 1,885 miles through Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. The first community the Rio Grande touches is that of the San Luis Valley where approximately 7,500 miles of the river contributes to the Rio Grande Basin as one of the dominant watersheds. The dry valley depends upon irrigation of major crops consisting of potatoes, barley, vegetables and alfalfa to a community that is, economically, highly dependent upon agriculture and raising livestock.

The intense irrigation and pumping of aquifers in this region by commercial farming companies has created a trickle-down affect on the rest of the communities this large river affects. Many farms in the San Luis Valley depend upon the snowfall in the mountains to replenish the Rio Grande and the surrounding groundwater. However, intense agricultural irrigation and the effects of an invasive plant species, the salt cedar (which absorbs large amounts of water, and depositing large quantities of salt) affects the Rio Grande Gorge and the White Rock Canyon of New Mexico, as well as the fragile bosque ecosystem in the floodplain of the Rio Grande Rift.

Clearly, new thinking around water is of critical import in this region. But here there is also an older, proven model of irrigation that works for both resource management and community collaboration: an acequia. A physical irrigation system of gravity chutes  – often an open ditch with dirt banks – in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado the term also describes a philosophy about water and community.  The acequia philosophy sees water as essentially communal; a resource that must be shared.

In the United States, the oldest acequias were established more than 400 years ago; and many continue to provide a primary source of water for farming and ranching ventures in areas in the Upper Rio Grande watershed.

The Trinchera Blanca Foundation, the Colorado affiliate of Louis Bacon’s Moore Charitable Foundation, has partnered with Colorado Open Lands (COL) to support its ongoing involvement with the acequia community to increase awareness of conservation options, and specifically to directly support the permanent protection of an iconic acequia-irrigated ranch.

Funding from The Trinchera Blanca Foundation will enable the permanent conservation of the Rio Culebra Ranch, located just outside of the town of San Luis, Colorado’s oldest town. The ranch protects critical viewsheds from the town and from the famous Stations of the Cross.  The designated Centennial ranch has been in the same family for over 150 years and has a rich multi-generational tradition of stewardship.

The ranch is irrigated by the San Pedro ditch, the second most senior acequia in the watershed, and one of the oldest water rights in the state of Colorado.  Consequently, conservation of this historic working ranch will keep critical senior water rights in agriculture.

The San Luis Valley’s unique acequia heritage has given rise to multiple federal designations, including the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area. However, Colorado Open Lands and The Trinchera Blanca Foundation recognize the critical role private lands play in sustaining the Valley’s ecology and culture. Colorado Open Lands appreciates the Foundation’s partnership in providing incentives to families who wish to see their own farms and acequia communities continue to flourish.

We commend COL’s unique approach to conservation across the state and we are proud to support their efforts to protect acequia lands and communities in the San Luis Valley. Readers can learn more here.