Noting his strong commitment to the health and preservation of the Rocky Mountain West region, Colorado Collegeâ€™s State of the Rockies Project awarded its first Champion of the Rockies Award to environmentalist, philanthropist and media giant Ted Turner.Turner, who owns the largest amount of private land in the United States, manages the largest private bison herd in North America, and is one of the nationâ€™s most influential environmental philanthropists, accepted the award at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3 in Armstrong Hall, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., on the Colorado College campus.
Colorado Collegeâ€™s Champion of the Rockies Award was initiated this year to honor leaders of vision, drive and determination whose efforts are positively shaping the Rocky Mountain regionâ€™s present and future. This yearâ€™s award presentation precedes the fourth annual Colorado College State of the Rockies Conference, running April 9-11. â€œThe 2007 Colorado College State of the Rockies Report Card,â€ a comprehensive research report written by Colorado College students and focusing on key issues affecting the eight-state Rocky Mountain region, was released on April 9.
Walt Hecox, director of the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project and an environmental science professor at Colorado College, said Ted Turnerâ€™s commitment to preserving the fragile and beautiful Rocky Mountain regionâ€™s environment made him the logical choice to receive the first Champion of the Rockies Award.
â€œTed Turnerâ€™s direct involvement in preserving and protecting the Rockies region and his considerable investment in its precious resources has profoundly impacted the Rockiesâ€™ evolution, particularly as it relates to sustainable practices and conservation,â€ Hecox said.
Turner Foundation, Inc., which works to prevent damage to water, air, and land, and the Turner Endangered Species Fund, which manages more than two million acres of property forming Turnerâ€™s ranching operations, are two critical examples of Turnerâ€™s dedication to affecting positive change in the region, Hecox said.
â€œBecause of these commitments and his unflagging enthusiasm for achieving what others predicted would be impossible â€“ successfully combining business with resource conservation â€“ Ted Turner is most definitely a Champion of the Rockies,â€ Hecox said. â€œHe sets an exciting example of what one person can do to help keep the Rockies a place we all cherish.â€
Though known primarily for his media interests, including CNN, Headline News, TNT, Cartoon Network and Time Warner, Turner has made his mark as one of the most influential philanthropists and environmentalists in the United States. He directs most of his philanthropic activities through Turner Foundation, Inc., which was founded in 1991, United Nations Foundation, which was created in 1997, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which was launched in January 2001.
Turner is Chairman of Turner Foundation, Inc., which provides support for clean water and toxics reduction; clean air through improved energy efficiency and renewables; wildlife habitat protection; and the development of equitable practices and policies designed to reduce population growth rates.
The Turner Endangered Species Fund is a core grantee of the Turner Foundation, which works to conserve biodiversity by emphasizing efforts on private land, particularly on the Turner properties. Endangered species, which have been reintroduced or restored, include black-footed ferrets, condors, desert bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, Mexican wolves, red-cockaded woodpeckers and West Slope cutthroat trout.
Through Turner Enterprises, Turner also manages the largest commercial bison herd in North America, with approximately 40,000 head spread among 13 ranches in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Dakota. In addition, Turner owns property in California, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Argentina. The mission of Turner Enterprises is â€œto manage Turner lands in an economically sustainable and ecologically sensitive manner while promoting the conservation of native species.â€
Turnerâ€™s influence on news and entertainment media is monumental and far-reaching. In 1980, he inaugurated CNN, the world’s first live, in-depth, round-the-clock news television network, which was followed in 1982 by a second all-news service, Headline News, offering updated newscasts every half hour. CNN International was launched in 1985, serving as the company’s global news service. It is distributed in more than 210 countries and territories worldwide.
In 1986, Turner Broadcasting System acquired the MGM library of film and television properties, which in turn formed the initial programming cornerstone of TNT, which was launched in 1988.
In 1991, Turner acquired the rights, library and production facilities of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. Cartoon Network, launched in 1992, showcases the company’s vast library of cartoons and original productions. In 1994, Turner Broadcasting merged with New Line Cinema. Films from New Line and the combined Turner and Warner Bros. library of film greats provide programming for Turner Classic Movies, a 24-hour commercial-free network launched in 1994.
Turner became vice chairman of Time Warner in 1996, with the merger of Time Warner Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. He oversaw New Line Cinema and the company’s professional sports teams, the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Thrashers. In 2001, he became vice chairman of AOL Time Warner, a position from which he served until May 2003.
Turner was named Time magazine’s 1991 Man of the Year and Cable and Broadcasting’s Man of the Century in 1999.
In 2002, Turner opened Tedâ€™s Montana Grill, an eco-friendly restaurant chain that serves bison or beef burgers in an authentic Montana bar and grill atmosphere. There are now nearly 50 locations nationwide, including one in Colorado Springs.