Fred Danforth (In Memoriam)

FRED C. DANFORTH was a visionary environmental investor, accomplished businessman, generous philanthropist, avid outdoorsman, and devoted husband and father. Co-founding Ecosystem Investment Partners with the vision of building the largest private investment firm devoted to land, water and habitat restoration, will forever be a legacy he had always hoped to leave — and proudly did.

Prior to EIP, Fred was a co-founder of Capital Resource Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm. After he retired from CRP, he fell in love with Montana’s Blackfoot Valley on a fly-fishing trip. Soon after, when he purchased a ranch in the Blackfoot that included miles of degraded trout streams, Fred found what he often said he was “meant to do”: combining his passion for the environment with his talent in business and finance. He began restoring the property’s streams and wetlands with his own resources, and was thrilled to witness the return of the property’s long-absent bull trout, trumpeter swans, grizzly bears and elk after only two years. The project ultimately became the Upper Clark Fork Mitigation Bank, the first wetland and stream mitigation bank in the state.

Once Fred set his mind to something, he was a force of nature.

Adam Davis, EIP Managing Partner

Diving into his interest in conservation finance through conferences and research, Fred’s insatiable curiosity led him to meet Adam Davis and Nick Dilks. Together, they founded EIP, based on Fred’s vision that private capital could be leveraged to create efficient, effective large-scale environmental restoration. Fred was beyond passionate about EIP; his wife, Carlene Larsson, recalls that he would launch into an enthusiastic pitch about the firm to anyone he met. His energy was unstoppable.

Fred’s passion underpinned the other efforts in his life, too. As a scholarship student during his time at Yale, Fred recognized what it meant to struggle financially in a place of privilege. After witnessing the difficulties of life on several reservations, Fred endowed a scholarship at Yale for Native American students; he also supported efforts to establish a cultural house for them on campus.

Fred was a man who found happiness in many things, but his family was the center of his life. A talented multi-sport athlete himself, Fred was the #1 fan of his two sons, Trygg Larsson Danforth and Pierce Danforth Larsson, throughout their athletic careers. The number of baseball and basketball games he missed can be counted on one hand; he frequently took red-eye flights back from EIP-related travel so that he could be present in the stands, cheering his children on.

Fred’s love of family, the natural world, and the joy of being alive shaped his legacy—one that lives on in the firm he co-founded, the environmental benefits of his conservation efforts, and his impact on everyone who knew him. To quote Carlene: “His life before he died was heaven on earth: he had a job he loved, a family he adored, and great friends all over the place. It just didn’t get any better than that for him.”