In 2009 Vincent Mann took the title and responsibilities of the Ringwood-based Turtle Clan Chief of the Ramapough-Lenape Tribe, situated in the Ramapo Mountains. Turtle Clan members live atop and nearby the historic Ringwood mines, the site which remains one of contamination and hazard. Beginning in the 1950s through the 1970s, the Ford Motor Company, then located in Mahwah, systematically dumped toxic materials into the mines and the surrounding region, which was found to be a potential cause of continuing illness and premature death that had plagued the people who lived there. The area was listed as a Superfund project by the EPA, forcing Ford to clean up. By the end of the 1990s, the EPA deemed the project complete but illness and evidence of contamination persisted, spiraling the clan members into much hopelessness. Something needed to be done. Chief Mann, who resides in West Milford, rallied his people and, with the help of the newspapers who documented the story, the EPA reopened the Superfund site and forced Ford back to do additional cleanup. The tribe lives atop the nearby the historic Ringwood mines, which remain contaminated and hazardous due to the Ford Motor Company. Chief Mann has worked tirelessly to have the Ford Superfund Site permanently cleaned up. He worked with faculty at NYU and Ramapo College, and state and federal health and disease control agencies to study the health effects from waste sites on Ringwood tribal residents. Chief Mann became not only the tireless representative of the Turtle Clan and their ultimate survival but also the passionate advocate for a cleaner, safer environment. Chief Mann also serves as the cultural monitor to ensure that the sacred land of his clan remains preserved as the gas companies seek to expand their fracking efforts from Pennsylvania to the east. He also is poised to play an important role to protect the integrity of the Ramapough culture as the proposed Pilgrim pipeline is planned to traverse the Ramapo Mountains. For his work on behalf of the Turtle Clan, the Ramapough/Lenape Tribe, all the people in the surrounding area and the environment itself, Chief Vincent Mann is the recipient of the $50,000 Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award.
Environment & Local Community Programs