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Aldo Leopold

His Life and Work

Curt D. Meine

Publication Year: 2010

This biography of Aldo Leopold follows him from his childhood as a precocious naturalist to his profoundly influential role in the development of conservation and modern environmentalism in the United States. This edition includes a new preface by author Curt Meine and an appreciation by acclaimed Kentucky writer and farmer Wendell Berry.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

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Aldo Leopold:A Reader’s Testimony

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pp. xi-xvi

I FIRST read A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold many years ago-as time is reckoned by us short -lived humans. By that reading I acquired an influence that would be permanently with me. Leopold's way of looking and his way of thinking have affected my looking and thinking as subtly and persistently as a familial landscape. Although I share Leopold's preoccupation with the land and its fate...

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Preface to the 2010 Edition

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pp. xvii-xxxii

IN his influential essay "The Land Ethic," completed in the final year of his life, Aldo Leopold summarized the lessons he had learned across four decades as a conservation scientist, advocate, practitioner, and teacher. Leopold argued that the next phase of human ethical development must include the expansion of our sphere of moral concern to include the land...

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Preface to the 1988 Edition

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pp. xxxiii-xxxiv

I FIRST learned of Aldo Leopold the same way so many others have: a friend told me that I ought to read A Sand County Almanac. I did not know at the time that the book was considered a classic in environmentalliterature, nor was I aware of Leopold's considerable fame and accomplishments within the conservation movement...

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pp. xxxv

ONLY at the end of a project like this does one begin to realize how many have lent a hand. At the risk of forgetting some of those who have helped along the way, I would like to express a few special thank-yous. First things first. For help in arranging and providing the funding that kept my rent paid for the duration, thanks to the Aldo Leopold Shack Foundation, the Sand County Foundation...

Part I: Midwest

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Ch. 1: Sources (1847-1887)

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pp. 3-11

IN 1843, western Missouri was a far outpost of eastern America, and a doorway to the wide-open West. At Independence, in the uplands above the Missouri River, early emigrants congregated, took final stock of their supplies and their situation, loaded their wagons, and struck off for new lands. One main trail, the Santa Fe, led to the Southwest. The other trail, the Oregon, led north to the Platte River and out onto the prairies and high plains further west...

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Ch. 2: Prospect Hill (1887-1904)

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pp. 12-29

FIVE YEARS before Aldo Leopold's birth, in 1882, Mark Twain undertook a tour of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Paul. When he came to Burlington, he found a "fine and flourishing" city, progressive and beautiful in its Flint Hills setting. "In Burlington, as in all these upper river towns," he wrote, "one breathes a go-ahead atmosphere which tastes good in the nostrils...

Part II: East

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Ch. 3: Lawrenceville (1904-1905)

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pp. 33-50

THE MORNING train pulled out of Burlington on January 5,1904, rolled east over the CB&Q bridge below Prospect Hill, and accelerated past the Crystal Lake Hunt Club. Aldo was downcast at the thought of leaving home, but the nostalgia of the moment soon passed. Even as the locomotive pulled...

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Ch. 4: New Haven (1905-1906)

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pp. 51-61

YEARS LATER, while jotting down some notes, Leopold wrote that "there are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to land."1 That, of course, accounted for just about everything; his interests were not narrow. Leopold was eighteen years old when he entered...

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Ch. 5: Forest School (1906-1909)

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pp. 62-83

AT LES CHENEAUX in the summer of 1906, Aldo got his canoe. Carl Leopold finally gave in to Aldo's requests, and before long a large wooden crate arrived, which they opened right on the dock. Aldo beamed. His dream of entering the unmapped northland was now one long pull-stroke closer to reality. He quickly mastered the canoe, and then taught the rest of the family, treating...

Part III: Southwest

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Ch. 6: Apache: The Breaks of the Blue (1909-1911)

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pp. 87-105

ON THE morning of July 1, 1909, Leopold boarded the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe at Fort Madison, Iowa, and headed west for Albuquerque. The train traced a transprairie arc over the route of the old Santa Fe Trail. It passed near Liberty, Missouri, crossed the Missouri River at Kansas City, and began its transect of the midwestern wheatlands...

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Ch. 7: Carson: A Delightful Turmoil (1911-1913)

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pp. 106-123

THE ASPIRATIONS of many a New Mexican bachelor focused on the Bergere household in Santa Fe. Before he began his new assignment on the Carson, Aldo found a spare day to call there. He arrived at the Bergere home only to find his friend Alfred Waha, another of Ringland's assistants, already there...

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Ch. 8: On Top (1913-1915)

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pp. 124-143

HAD LEOPOLD remained in Tres Piedras, he probably would have died. The doctor in Santa Fe correctly diagnosed his case as an attack of acute nephritis, known also as Bright's disease. Two days prior to the Jicarilla inspection tour, Leopold had mentioned in his work diary that he was "sick." This unspecified illness, combined with the subsequent exposure to the Jicarilla elements...

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Ch. 9: "To Promote the Protection and Enjoyment of Wild Things..." (1915-1919)

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pp. 144-174

ON JUNE 16, 1915, one week after leaving the Office of Grazing, Leopold stood on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. He was now responsible for District 3 recreational policy, and his first assignment was to investigate conditions at the Canyon, then a national monument administered by the Forest Service as part of the Kaibab and Tusayan National Forests. Leopold would visit the Canyon...

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Ch. 10: Chief of Operations (1919-1922)

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pp. 175-210

LEOPOLD rejoined the Forest Service as Assistant District Forester in Charge of Operations on August 1, 1919. Ten years after arriving in Albuquerque, Leopold now occupied the second highest position in the district. He was responsible for overseeing and evaluating the day-to-day functions-personnel, construction, fire control, roads and trails, other permanent improvements, public relations, recreation, timber management, land acquisition...

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Ch. 11: Pioneers and Gullies (1923-1924)

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pp. 211-228

LEOPOLD turned thirty-six in January 1923. His sandy hair had thinned a little, and he had begun to wear spectacles. He remained slender and solid in frame, and the lines coming to his face made his already sharp features seem only more severely defined. Estella was thirty-two, in good health, lively and cordial in character. Her appearance was classically Spanish: jet-black hair, high cheek bones, dark eyes, smooth bronze skin.

Part IV: Wisconsin

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Ch. 12: A Fish out of Water (1924-1928)

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pp. 231-258

LEOPOLD left Albuquerque on May 29,1924, eastbound on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe. Ten-year-old Starker and eight-year-old Luna travelled with their father. As the train pulled out onto the high plains of eastern New Mexico and Colorado, Leopold would have concentrated his view along the long crest of the Sangre De Cristos. On the other side of the jagged line of mountain...

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Ch. 13: Game Methods (1928-1932)

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pp. 259-290

IN TAKING charge of the game survey for the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute, Leopold stepped into a conservation movement maelstrom. There was no science of game management to speak of in the United States. Zoologists studied game and nongame wildlife, but rarely with an eye toward conservation. "Wild life" itself was still a two-word term used mainly by sportsmen, naturalists...

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Ch. 14: Consulting Forester (1932-1933)

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pp. 291-307

THERE WAS scarce demand for any sort of work in the spring of 1932, much less for that of a consulting forester. The Depression held Madison, a small city with its economic base in agriculture, education, government, and small businesses, in a dull grip of stagnation. At the government's end of State Street, politicians tried to legislate a way out of the crisis; at the university's end, economists tried to theorize a way out. In the Greenbush, the concentration...

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Ch. 15: The Professor (1933-1934)

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pp. 308-339

A FEW days after joining the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, Leopold gave a short talk for the state's farmers over WHA radio, the university-sponsored station. His topic was "Building a Wisconsin Game Crop": At this season when the frost will soon be on the pumpkin, and the first sumacs are turning red, many a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of game birds. The trouble is that in most places game birds have become scarce...

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Ch. 16: The Value of Wilderness (1934-1935)

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pp. 340-361

THE WISCONSIN Conservation Commission declared a bow-andarrow- only deer season in Sauk and Columbia Counties, north of Madison, for the fall of 1934. It was the first archery-only season in recent American hunting history. "Look Out Mr. Buck!" read the headline on the November 21 edition...

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Ch. 17: Toward a Biotic View of Land (1936-1939)

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pp. 362-396

WHILE LEOPOLD was in Europe, a revolution in wildlife conservation was occurring back in the United States. Ding Darling provided the spark. On April 24, 1935, Darling sat down with a group of industrialists at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, a meeting that in the following months gave rise to a number...

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Ch. 18: Digging Deeper (1939-1941)

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pp. 397-429

ONE OF Leopold's closest friends and staunchest supporters in the Wisconsin Conservation Department was Ernie Swift. They had been friends for ten years, ever since Swift was a northwoods warden and Leopold was conducting his game surveys. Swift had since risen to become deputy director of the Conservation Department. Leopold admired his combination of woods...

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Ch. 19: Land Use and Democracy (1942-1945)

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pp. 430-473

LEOPOLD acknowledged that, in wartime, conservation seemed like "a milk-and-water affair." Viewed from another angle, though, war defined the issue. "If America is here to stay," Leopold said at a seminar in 1942, "she must have healthy land to live on, for, and by. Hitler's taunt that no democracy uses its land decently, while true of our past, must be proven untrue in the years...

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Ch. 20: A Portent of a Different Future (1945-1947)

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pp. 474-544

THE WEEKS following V-J Day brought forth what Leopold described as "the largest and best batch of graduate students I have ever seen." Returning soldiers wasted no time in beating a path to the doorstep of the Department of Wildlife Management. Leopold, McCabe, and Virginia Kiesel, the new department...

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Ch. 21: Finale (1947-1948)

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pp. 506-520

THE ALCOHOL block that Leopold received in May 1947 wore off over the summer. The tic spasms returned and finally became painful beyond the point of tolerance. On August 19, Leopold matterof- factly wrote to the Mayo Clinic to arrange a date for surgery. Dr. Alfred Adson, a neurosurgeon at the clinic, scheduled an appointment for a month later. In the interval Leopold was confined to bed. Dan Thompson, one of his graduate assistants, had to begin the Advanced Game Management course without him...

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pp. 521-529

ALDO LEOPOLD'S odyssey ended where it began, in the limestone bluffs above the Mississippi River at Burlington, Iowa. He was buried in the Starker-Leopold family plot at Aspen Grove Cemetery, on a small knoll between two white pines and two white oaks. The funeral was held with little ceremony. Leopold's grave was marked with a simple stone. Out of respect for Estella's religious beliefs, his body was not cremated, as others in the family had been...

Abbreviations Used in Notes and Bibliography

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pp. 533-534


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pp. 535-588


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pp. 589-620


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pp. 621-638

E-ISBN-13: 9780299249038
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299249045

Publication Year: 2010