DECLARING that his “bold actions were inspiring others to protect and steward their lands,” the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) this month presented one of its highest and rarest honours to philanthropic conservationist Louis Bacon.
Mr Bacon was presented with the LTA President’s Award for Conservation Leadership in recognition of what the organisation called his “lifelong passion for land conservation, his accomplishments with the Moore Charitable Foundation (MCF), and his move to permanently protect more than 210,000 acres of his own land”.
The presentation, made in Providence, Rhode Island, came during the annual conference of the Alliance, which represents 1,200 member trusts and five million people who work to save the places people love. It was only the fourth time in the Alliance’s 22-year history that the President’s Award for Leadership has been presented.
“Mr Bacon’s bold actions are inspiring other landowners to protect and steward their lands, encouraging them to protect America’s natural heritage to create a lasting legacy for generations to come,” said Rand Wentworth, the LTA president.
“We are immensely grateful to Mr Bacon for his conservation leadership and thank him for joining us at Rally 2014 to celebrate the tremendous good his works have yielded.”
Declaring that he was “humbled and honoured” to receive the award, Mr Bacon, a Lyford Cay resident, described the work of his foundation, founded over 20 years ago.
“The Moore Charitable Foundation pursues two simple and equally important passions: a love of nature – and the desire to protect it,” Mr Bacon said.
In The Bahamas, the Moore Bahamas Foundation, an affiliate of the Moore Charitable Foundation, is working to preserve fragile coral reefs and other marine resources in a country where more than 90 per cent of its area is water.
Mr Bacon described what he called a moral choice in the ownership of lands he has purchased.
“To protect these lands forever – or leave them vulnerable to someone who could ruin them forever at a moment’s notice with an irreversible decision,” he said, noting that choice has driven him to conserve over 90 per cent of his lands for future generations. He has cleared invasive plants to allow hardwood forests to regenerate, rehabilitated 11,000 acres of long-leaf pine habitat, rebuilt embankments to spare a wildfowl sanctuary from the threat of being washed away, repaired streams to revitalise trout populations and removed hundreds of miles of barbed wire cattle fencing to open up grasslands for migratory mammals.
Mr Bacon used the occasion of the largest gathering of land conservation leaders in America to reveal plans to urge other large landowners to practice conservation. “In the coming months,” he remarked, “we will work with the Alliance to challenge the largest landowners in America to conserve at least 50 per cent of their land holding. It’s my hope that, together with the Alliance, we can dramatically increase the pace of land conservation in America.”
Ann Colley, executive director and vice-president of the MCF, added: “The Land Trust Alliance conserves some of the most important and treasured resources in America. Louis’ recognition through the President’s Award for Conservation Leadership is truly an honour, and it speaks to the important role he plays throughout the land trust and private landowner communities.” The award celebrates “an individual whose leadership has enriched the land conservation movement and whose contributions encourage commitment and action throughout the land trust community and private landowner community”.
Mr Bacon is Chairman of the MCF and its affiliate foundations across North America, spanning southern Colorado, eastern North Carolina, The Bahamas, Panama and Long Island, New York. MCF supports conservation non-profit organisations that focus on protecting threatened landscapes, habitats and water bodies across the world. The Foundation works with conservation experts and leaders and has provided significant funding to more than 200 local, national and international environmental organisations.