The Orton Foundation, The Moore Charitable Foundation’s regional affiliate, is dedicated to the vitality of North Carolina’s Cape Fear River, and supports the protection of its watershed and community through strategic and diverse partnerships. Threats to the Cape Fear River’s health and ecological diversity include erosion, increasing storms, factory farms, insidious industrial toxins such as PFAS and coal ash pollutions, offshore drilling, and development. We fight for the watershed’s protection through education and advocacy, community organizing, and by employing legal measures to expose specific environmental and health threats. 

The Orton Foundation is proud to support cultural and historic restoration initiatives in the area. We also partner with the Brunswick County community to support health and community services.

Coastal Restoration

Orton Foundation partners address the degradation of the Cape Fear River by implementing improved water quality policy and natural restoration strategies, such as living shorelines and oyster reefs. We are restoring coastal bird habitat, including Piping Plovers and White Ibis, and contributing to initiatives that raise awareness of the area’s critical position during migration in the Atlantic Flyway.

Industrial Agriculture Waste

The Cape Fear River watershed has the heaviest concentration of swine and poultry CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operation) in the world; its waste storage and disposal has caused extensive contamination of surface waters. Orton Foundation partners with diverse organizations to address the devastating environmental and human impacts of these practices, and contributes to ongoing expert collaboration toward real solutions.

"With Orton Foundation, we are making progress toward clean, healthy waterways and communities.” - Marc Yaggi, Executive Director, Waterkeeper Alliance

Coal Ash & Chemical Toxins

We partner to fight multiple sources of pollution. Coal ash from Duke Energy’s Sutton Plant has caused insidious groundwater pollution, violating state regulatory standards. Sutton Lake, a local public fishery, is a coal ash waste disposal site that contaminates residential drinking water and harms fish population. Lawsuits produced cleanup commitments at Duke Energy sites, including Sutton Plant, and recent decisions will force fulfillment. Additionally, clean water continues to be a significant issue in Raleigh and Wilmington in the wake of the discovery of GenX, an unregulated, cancer-causing chemical, in the Cape Fear River, the drinking water source for thousands of North Carolinians.

Offshore Drilling and Seismic Testing

Offshore drilling would have adverse onshore impacts for North Carolina’s natural heritage, its coastal communities, the ocean, and marine life, including the risk of oil spills and the industrialization of the coast. With partners, we vehemently oppose offshore oil exploration and extraction and are fighting to protect and promote sustainable coastal economic opportunities. We also oppose the practice of seismic blasting, a precursor to extraction, which has devastating effects on marine life, including the severely endangered Northern Right whale.

Forest Health

The longleaf pine forest represents some of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems. Requiring regular cycles of fire and forest management to thrive, the remaining longleaf pine regions have been seriously threatened by suppression. Orton Foundation supports efforts to restore a natural fire regime by applying prescribed fires to priority longleaf sites along the coastal plain of North Carolina, providing benefits to endemic species such as the red cockaded woodpecker and the Venus flytrap. With partners, we are contributing to landscape-scale conservation efforts in the Cape Fear Arch. And we are fighting the establishment of the wood pellet industry, which is massively contributing to the deforestation of southern forests.

North Carolina News & Impact

The North Carolina Coastal Federation announces support from the Orton Foundation to mitigate pollution, restore coastal habitats and water quality, and strengthen coastal resilience in the Lower Cape Fear River estuary.

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Since 1992, Towncreek Vision Corporation volunteers have been providing programs and services in the Towncreek-Snowfield community of Leland, North Carolina, to address poverty, hunger, racism, exclusion and health.

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The Dosher Memorial Hospital Foundation proudly accepts Orton Foundation support for equipment upgrades for the Emergency Room, which serves more than 13,000 patients a year.

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