Louis Bacon, the billionaire founder of Moore Capital Management, has been steadily building his reputation as one of the leading conservationists in the country.
In 2012, he gave 90,000 acres to the federal government as a conservation easement, and created the Trinchera Blanca Foundation to permanently protect 167,000 of the 171,400 acres of his Trinchera Blanca Ranch, expanding the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area bordering the San Luis Valley in Colorado, and placed his 20,000 acre Tercio Ranch in a conservation easement as well. Prior to that, he’d also made significant contributions to conservation projects in his childhood home of North Carolina, on Long Island, New York, and in the Bahamas. (See Louis Bacon Profile)
Now, it appears as though Bacon has turned his eyes toward Taos, New Mexico. Having owned property there since 1996, Bacon had worked with the previous owners of the Taos Ski Valley, the Blake Family, to develop a master plan for renovating the aging ski resort that was ultimately approved by the forest service in 2012. The family, which had been seeing tourism decline, had wanted to make improvements for a long time, but could not afford them without risking the ability to pay their employees.
It was Bacon’s conservation ethic, as well as his willingness to work with the family, that Led the Blakes to offer to sell him the property. "We believe Louis is the right person to ensure a viable future for the ski valley and that his ownership will be beneficial to our employees, Taos' residents and guests," said Mickey Blake in a statement. "I'm in mourning a little bit but I realize this is really a good thing for the ski area," said Adriana Blake.
Bacon is dedicated to “advancing the Blake family vision and legacy of Taos Ski Valley by continuing to provide an unmatched skiing experience while serving as an economic driver for northern New Mexico,” according to his spokesman Peter Talty. And his commitment to conservation also has environmental protection groups in New Mexico looking to him to help further local conservation efforts. If history is any indicator, these groups may not have to wait long—his deal with the federal government for conservation easements in Colorado took just two years from genesis to completion.
Ann Colley, executive director and vice president of Bacon’s Moore Charitable Foundation, however, exercises caution, saying Taos is still “brand new” to her and the foundation, and they aren’t yet ready to take a public position on local conservation issues. “We always start with the mandate of being a good community partner with the organizations that are there,” she says.
Aside from the land donations, the Foundation averages about $200,000 in annual giving to Colorado nonprofits. Much of this goes to educational institutions for environmental programs, but the Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, electing instead to work with the community to indentify programs that align with its mission. It wouldn't be surprising if we saw substantial giving the Taos area within a few years.