A letter to our community…

Photo by Linda Yao

The centuries-deep cultural history in the Eno River basin is rich, and injustice, inequity, and racism are tragically foundational to much of that history. The most recent murders of two innocent Black men – George Floyd and Amaud Arbery- and a Black woman – Breonna Taylor- have opened centuries-old wounds of racism inflicted on the Black community. We see you, and we stand with you in the call for justice and equity.

The land conservation movement is not separate from these acts of injustice. The initial concepts of land conservation were exclusionary. Preservation and protection were done for the benefit of white men of privilege. Too often, early conservation work overlooked and marginalized the needs of communities of color and created an unequal access to nature. We are committed to seeing that that is not the legacy of conservation in the Eno River basin.

Conservation at its core is the celebration of diversity; diversity of plants, diversity of animals, diversity of landscapes, and diversity of cultures and people. To truly conserve and protect the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the Eno River basin -our mission for the past 54 years- we must uplift the marginalized stories and work to overcome the injustice that has been wrought on the Black and Indigenous communities in the basin.

Are we successful in this effort so far? Is our work reaching the marginalized communities along the Eno as it runs thru Orange and Durham Counties? Are we engaging in meaningful partnerships with low-income communities and communities of color? Are we modeling equity and inclusivity in the way we work, and in our public-facing programs? Humbly, we cannot answer yes to these questions. Not yet.

In 1966, the Eno River Association was founded by a group of inspired Durham citizen who were not afraid to speak up for something they knew was important, and we will not shy away from that calling now. In the tradition of our spirited founders, Eno will advocate for what we know is important- racial justice, equity, and inclusion.

The Eno River Association Board of Directors and Staff

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