Timeline: Louis Bacon
1956: Louis Bacon is born in Raleigh, N.C.
1989: Bacon takes a $25,000 inheritance from his mother and
founds Moore Capital Management, an investment management firm now worth
about $15 billion.
2004: Bacon makes the Forbes 400 list.
2007: Bacon purchases the Trinchera Ranch property from the Forbes family for $175 million.
2008: Bacon begins his battle with energy companies Xcel and
Tri-State Generation and Transmission over a transmission line that
would run through his Trinchera Ranch property, a project approved in
2011 by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. (A Tri-State spokesman
says Tri-State still wants to pursue the project, although Xcel backed
April 2010: Bacon paid a $25 million fine to the Commodity
Futures Trading Commission after his former portfolio manager was
accused of manipulating prices of platinum and palladium during daily
trading in 2007 and 2008.
Summer 2010: Police visit Bacon's Bahamas home and find four
high-end sound speakers made to project powerful sound waves across long
distances, but that police classify as "ultrasonic weaponry" capable of
injuring people. Bacon's neighbor, millionaire fashion designer Peter
Nygard, claims the sound waves give him irregular heartbeats, but Bacon
argues the speakers were meant to counterbalance the noise caused by
Nygard's house parties. Bacon and Nygard remain tied up in court, both
claiming the other violated property boundaries and was disruptive.
May 2011: Louis Bacon wins U.K. court order to force Wikipedia, the Denver Post
and WordPress to reveal the identities of writers who "defamed" him.
Wikipedia and WordPress both state publicly they would comply only with a
U.S. court order.
February 2012: The Securities and Exchange Commission
pressures Moore Capital to reveal details regarding the company's risk
management, trading and disciplinary policies in order to comply with
the new Dodd-Frank legislation. CNN Money reports the traditionally
secretive Bacon is considering scaling down Moore Capital to the point
at which it would no longer be subject to new regulations.
June 2012: The National Audubon Society announces Bacon is to be awarded the Audubon Medal for his conservation efforts.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced recently a record-breaking donation from billionaire Louis Bacon that could jump-start a proposed government conservation project.
Bacon, the founder of the $15 billion hedge fund group called Moore Capital Management, said he intends to place about 90,000 acres of unprotected land on the Blanca portion of his Trinchera Ranch in southern Colorado into a conservation easement with the government. It would be the largest single conservation easement ever donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The land is in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains bordering the San Luis Valley and includes high desert shrubs, mountain grassland, alpine forest and the 14,345-foot Blanca Peak.
The remaining portion of the 172,000-acre Trinchera Ranch is already protected by an easement administered by Colorado Open Lands.
Easements do not transfer ownership of the land but restrict development by the landowner, who is eligible for a number of tax incentives.
"I have worked on a number of conservation and preservation projects in the United States and overseas, but nothing with the scope and importance of my efforts on Trinchera Ranch, in the breathtaking Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range," Bacon said in a news release.
Bacon's donation will lay the foundation for the government's proposed Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area. In an email, Fish and Wildlife Service representatives said that if the plan moves forward, the conservation area will expand into Northern New Mexico.
The government will work to persuade other private landowners in the area, such as billionaire Ted Turner, to form partnerships with the government similar to Bacon's.
The planned easement comes in the wake of a battle between Bacon and the energy companies Xcel Energy and Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which pushed to build a transmission line that would run through the unprotected portion of his property.
The project was met with opposition from community and environmental groups, who were concerned the transmission line would be an eyesore that would harm wildlife, the Denver Post reported.
Fish and Wildlife Service representatives said documents outlining the specifics of the easement have not yet been developed, but that they typically include "limitations on subdivision and restrictions on conversion of undeveloped areas to agriculture or residential uses."
Characteristics of the property and the landowner's wishes are considered when developing these guidelines. Once the land is under government protection, Tri-State would have to apply for a "right-of-way" passage to develop it.
Because the purpose of conservation easements is to restrict development, it is unlikely a request would be granted. Negotiations with a landowner are confidential until the transaction becomes a matter of public record.
Tri-State spokesman Jim Van Someren said the transmission line is crucial to meeting the power needs of the area, which continues to grow and develop.
"If developers are going to continue to develop renewable energy projects, we need to do it," he said. "The demand for power continues to grow in that area, and we have to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to deliver that power."
Government representatives stressed the importance of conserving the area's "diverse ecosystems." An email from the Fish and Wildlife Service said, "The service's efforts to have public and private land conservation efforts complement one another is a visionary approach to realizing the effective conservation of large landscapes in a cooperative, community-based manner."
News reports over the years suggest Bacon, while willing to step into the spotlight to discuss his conservation efforts, is less forthcoming about his business dealings.
Earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission asked Moore Capital to hand over documents that would reveal details about the company's policies and procedures in order to comply with Dodd-Frank legislation regulating the financial services industry. CNN Money reported Bacon was considering scaling down his operation into a "family office" -- one in which he manages only his own investments rather than the investments of others -- and that he saw the Dodd-Frank Act as "a problem."
Bacon recently donated $500,000 to presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who has voiced his intentions to repeal Dodd-Frank.
In the conservation realm, Bacon is a hero. Earlier this week, the Audubon Society announced plans to award him the Audubon Medal for his efforts. He is one of only 51 people ever to receive the award.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement that his land donation would help create an unparalleled conservation area in the U.S. "Thanks to Louis Bacon's deep commitment to conservation, we will now be able to preserve a diverse mosaic of public and private lands, creating a landscape corridor for fish and wildlife unlike any place in America," he said.
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