The “Fire Forests” of the southeast need fire the way rain forests need rain. Photo (c) Anne Liles


Fire and the Longleaf Pines of the Southern US: A Bright Future for a Magical Forest

by Angie Carl, SE Coastal Plain Stewardship & Fire Program Manager, The Nature Conservancy Category: ,

The longleaf pine forests of the southern US have a unique and subtle beauty. The secret to this beauty is fire. The “Fire Forests” of the southeast need fire the way rain forests need rain. Most of the plants and animals here have adapted to years of fires that occurred as frequently as every one to five years, through lightning and Native American burning. Without these fires the woods become overgrown, shading out the natural systems and rare plants that therefore can no longer survive. I have been leading burns in the forests of southeast North Carolina for 13 years. They are some of the most beautiful and difficult forest in which to burn. I do it because the health of our unique forests – an amazing array of carnivorous plants, orchids, grasses, birds, bears, bobcats, and many other animals depends on it. A dramatic fact is that the Venus Flytrap, which now only grows here naturally, would die off forever if we ceased to burn. Recently The Nature Conservancy (TNC) purchased a new tract in Brunswick County,... read more +


An Ode to the Act of Giving Thanks to Dosher Memorial Hospital Grant from Louis Bacon’s Orton Foundation


On December 16, 2016, team members from The Orton Foundation, the North Carolina affiliate of Louis Bacon’s Moore Charitable Foundation, visited Dosher Memorial Hospital to deliver a $30,000 contribution for the hospital’s Emergency Department, which treats more than 13,000 patients per year. During the check presentation, Dr. Joseph P. Hatem MD, MPH, gave a kind and poignant speech about the act of giving, the ripple effect of hope, and the spirit of the holidays. Dr. Hatem has graciously agreed to let us publish his wonderful remarks here in their entirety.  On behalf of the doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, and staff of the J. Arthur Dosher Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, I would like to thank the Orton Foundation, Mr. Louis Bacon, Mr. Dillon Epp [Property and Wildlife Manager, Orton Plantation Holding LLC], and Ms. Ann Colley [Executive Direction and Vice President, The Moore Charitable Foundation], for the continued gift of faith they have in our hospital. Again to put this into perspective, the original hospital cost $30,000 to build in 1928, with Brunswick County Hospital Opening, June 2, 1930. James B. Duke and The Duke Endowment... read more +


BGCSLV connects kids to the many environmental wonders of the San Luis Valley


How a San Luis Valley club is helping youth connect to their local environment and impact the future of conservation

by Chris Lopez, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley Category: ,

A group of 50 or so kids are on a pedestrian bridge that connects the east-west dykes of the Rio Grande River as it flows through Alamosa, Colorado. The kids are standing on the bridge looking south and hearing how the river flows to deliver water into neighboring New Mexico and eventually into Mexico at the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border, just 460 miles away. It’s nearing the end of summer and the mountains that surround the San Luis Valley are bare of snow. Generally, the mountains of the Valley are snow-capped beginning around November and continue to keep some snow cover through the spring runoff and into the heat of the summer. By August, though, when the kids from Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley are on their twice-a-week nature walk, the snow has melted completely and the mountains that surround look naked, albeit still inviting. On this day the youth members of Boys & Girls Clubs are learning how the river that they see every day flows. Standing on the bridge looking south helps... read more +

The Community Preservation Fund (CPF) has provided the five East End Towns of Long Island with an important revenue source to protect what we know and love - land, water and wildlife

A Great Win for Water on the East End of Long Island and a Renewed Call to Action for Land Protection

by Robert S. DeLuca, President and CEO, Group for the East End and John v.H. Halsey, Founder and President, Peconic Land Trust Category:

On November 8th,  East End voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to extend the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund through 2050 and to allow up to 20 percent of its future proceeds to be used for water quality initiatives. Group for the East End and Peconic Land Trust are two of many groups who collaborated to ensure this huge win. Louis Bacon, The Moore Charitable Foundation and local affiliate The Robin’s Island Foundation are longtime supporters of both. Since 1999, the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) has provided the five East End Towns of Long Island with an important revenue source to protect what we know and love – our working farms and natural landscapes, watersheds and habitats, shorelines and wetlands, as well as our historic resources.  While we have achieved so much – over 10,000 acres protected — there is still much to be done. Basically a real estate transfer tax program, the fund has raised more than $1 billion since its inception. An important component of the funding is that the dollars raised, in each town through these sales (2% tax on real... read more +


Conservation Easements: Keeping Colorado, Colorado

by Amanda Barker, Executive Director, Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts Category: , ,

Colorado has a rich, proud heritage of working landscapes. Our productive farms, ranches, and abundant natural resources stretch from our prairie vistas to our mountain peaks. Coloradans – natives and newcomers, alike – are proud of our lands and we overwhelmingly support protecting them. These working lands have drawn people to Colorado for hundreds of years and they will continue to do so for many years to come. But our state’s continued growth has led to an important balancing act between development and maintaining what makes Colorado, Colorado. As Coloradans know, our state continues to grow. By 2050, the population is expected to exceed 9 million, nearly doubling the current number of residents and putting more pressure on our land and water. These pressures threaten the viability of our farms and ranches as well as iconic landscapes and scenic places. We see those threats becoming realities as family farms and ranches are sold into development, or lost due to financial hardships. There are, however, tools to protect our lands and our heritage. One of those tools is the... read more +


Lesli Allison: Our Changing Forests

by Lesli Allison, Executive Director, Western Landowners Alliance Category:

Louis Bacon‘s Trinchera Blanca Foundation recently hosted a roundtable discussion in southern Colorado about best practices in forest health management with partners and other practitioners in the area. A thought leader in this conversation is Lesli Allison, founding member and Executive Director of the Western Landowners Alliance and the Chama Peak Land Alliance. Through both organizations, Lesli has worked extensively with private landowners and multiple stakeholders to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities.  When I was a young child, my family lived in a cabin in a tiny inholding in the middle of a national forest. It was nestled in the bottom of a narrow canyon, three miles up a rugged two-track road. With the exception of a few generally vacant summer cabins, we had no neighbors. We also had no television, no phone and no radio.  My mother taught school and left early each day. My father stayed at home, trying to write the next great American novel. Because he needed to concentrate, my father tossed me out of the house whenever the weather was fair and I was left... read more +

Forest Log Wood Trees Nature Dead Plant Black

A fine balance: a healthy forest counters living trees with those dead and dying.


Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities, Healthy Landscapes – Letting Fire Back In

by Tony Cheng, Professor of forestry and director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University Category:

My kids are at an age where they still like to hang out with me. My work as a forestry professor at Colorado State University, where I’m also the director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, takes me out into the woods a lot. I frequently drag my kids along on field trips, where I give presentations to a variety of audiences. Unlike calculus, forestry is a tangible science, where even kids can immediately grasp concepts. On a recent field trip that my son attended, he afterwards said, “Fire is actually good for the forest, right dad?” The simple answer is, “Yes.”  But it’s obviously more complicated. Like anything in the natural world, simple answers belie how complex things really are. Like in virtually every place on the planet, the forests of the Rocky Mountains are facing an uncertain future. Wildfires, large insect outbreaks, and other climate-induced die-offs are changing the complexion of the region’s forests. This has led to a common refrain: we are facing a “forest health crisis.”  But what exactly is a healthy forest?  There... read more +

Colorado River Canyon Gorge Grand Canyon

Six Ways Save The Colorado River is Saving the Colorado River, Right Now

by Gary Wockner, PhD, Executive Director, Save The Colorado River Campaign Category:

The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the Southwest. From Denver to San Diego, the entire region lives off its water, slurped out in unsustainable ways from top to bottom. The two big reservoirs in the system, Lakes Mead and Powell, have shrunk to their combined lowest level in history. Further, that slurping has endangered fish, severely depleted river flows, and drained the Colorado River bone dry – all 5 trillion gallons are drained out before the river meets the Gulf of California. Here are six ways that Save The Colorado is turning back this tide and working to not just protect, but restore, the Colorado River. We support stopping all new proposed dams and diversions of water out of the Colorado River and its tributaries. Even though the river system is in severe decline, more dams and diversions are planned along the river in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. We oppose these new dams and diversions and are prepared to fight to stop them in court. We support dramatically ramping up water conservation programs in cities across the... read more +


In Wilmington, NC and Everywhere: Economic Development Is More Than Just Growth

by Scott Johnson, Chairman, Cape Fear Economic Development Council Category:

The following blog post is the second entry of a series in WilmingtonBiz.com Insights and reflects the opinion of the Cape Fear Economic Development Council. Written by Chairman Scott Johnson in support of adopting the improved community-focused Industrial Special Use Permit (SUP), it advocates for clean and responsible economic growth for New Hanover County. Cities and towns recognize the need to pursue economic growth and adopt policies and programs, including incentives, that are designed to enhance economic development opportunities. Most residents understand there is a relationship between the successful function of the local economy and the quality of life they enjoy. They also know that many community services, including public schools, are often defined by the amount of local taxes collected. But how we implement and define what economic growth means to us will be the tipping point for how an older industrial area, such as ours, will remake and rewrite the story of the power of economic innovation. Historic concepts of economic growth in American cities like Wilmington can be viewed in many ways. One view has been that all... read more +

Sebastian Bergmann Siegburg

CO landowners work with public lands for great public benefit. Photo (c) Sebastian Bergmann Siegburg


How a Web-based Tool Can Stimulate Land Stewardship on Private Lands in Colorado

by Amos S. Eno Category:

While land conservation in the early twentieth century was dominated by the designation of public lands at the federal and state levels, private land conservation is and will be the conservation market of the 21st century, particularly in the west. Almost half of the western landscape (47 percent, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report) is managed by five federal agencies: the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Department of Defense. However, even in a state like Idaho, where 62 percent of the land is under federal management, private landowners play a critical and important role in conservation. This is not a new concept. In 1949, Aldo Leopold postulated in A Sand County Almanac: “The geography of conservation is such that most of the best land will always be held privately for agricultural production. The bulk of responsibility for conservation thus necessarily devolves upon the private custodian, especially the farmer.” This is certainly true in Idaho, where private landowners hold 93 percent of the most productive soils, but... read more +