Wed September 2, 2009
Earth Notes - Aldo Leopold
Flagstaff, AZ – One hundred years ago, a 22-year-old tenderfoot and new graduate of the Yale Forestry School arrived in eastern Arizona. He came by wagon from the railhead in Holbrook. His job? To serve as assistant forester of the new Apache National Forest in the White Mountains. His name? Aldo Leopold.
On his trusty horse, Jiminy Hicks, Leopold rode for two summers through the verdant high-country forests. He learned quickly from the Southwest's places and people, and was soon promoted to supervisor of New Mexico's Carson National Forest.
Timber, grasslands, soil, and wildlife were Leopold's main concerns. He focused especially on managing game animals such as deer and wild turkey, and at first believed the best way to help them was to have fewer wolves, grizzly bears, and mountain lions.
As Leopold's career progressed, so did his ecological consciousness. Eventually, he realized that top predators were essential to a healthy landscape. The most famous expression of those evolving thoughts is the timeless collection of his essays, A Sand County Almanac.
In those fledgling years in the Southwest, Aldo Leopold began to ask the big questions, and formulate answers, that he would mold into his holistic land ethic. "When we see land as a community to which we belong," he wrote, "we may begin to use it with love and respect."
This year the community of the Colorado Plateau celebrates the life and work of this prophetic scientist and conservationist with numerous events in Arizona and New Mexico. To learn more, visit www.leopoldcelebration.org.
For centennial events and more on Aldo Leopold's life, go to www.leopoldcelebration.org or http://azstateparks.com/find/aldo_calendar.html. For events on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, call 928-333-4301.
By Rose Houk