Old Diary, Travel

Aldo Leopold and the Foundation

2015101611544637To say enough good about Aldo Leopold would take a lot more time than I’m going to devote to this blog but I have to at least mention him or they will revoke my Wisconsin citizenship.  On Friday we took a little (300 miles) drive in search of fall foliage.  Truth be told the Fall Color Report lied because the best color we saw was near Holy Hill (right in our own backyard) and most of what we saw were bare trees that went from green to dead weeks ago, and green Oaks and Maples that haven’t turned yet.  Still, it was a pleasant day’s drive.

2015101611404933Our objective,  if we had one, was a visit to the Aldo Leopold Foundation building in Baraboo Wisconsin.  This amazing Green structure in rural Wisconsin is reason enough to make the visit.  It’s said to be the ‘greenest’ building in the U.S. having scored a whopping 61 out of 69 points on the LEED scale of renewable and sustainable construction.  The building uses earth tubes for heating and cooling, is energy positive through a variety of tactics including active and passive solar — it’s a really kewl place.  2015101611374324If I was ever to think about building a home I would come here just to do research on the little tricks they came up with to increase the building’s efficiency.

leopoldOne simple example is their solution for snow covered boots in winter.  The visitors center has an enclosed passive solar collection corridor on the South side of the building  — so you have a 6’ sort of hallway around one side and part of a second side.  Upon entering the building from the outside you find yourself in this corridor — standing on a concrete poured floor with a hole in the middle — right in front of the inner door.  And over the hole are wooden planks/slats with spaces between so that you can stamp off the snow on your boots before entering the inner part of the building.  (or even take OFF your boots and leave the snow outside. Simple, elegant in it’s simplicity, and effective.

Aldo Leopold

If you haven’t heard of Aldo Leopold you really should take a little time to investigate this amazing guy.  Even though he lived before most of what we think of as the ecologically minded pioneers he was just that.  (1887 – 1948)

Leopold was an American author, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac(1949), which has sold more than two million copies.

Leopold was influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and in the movement for wilderness conservation. His ethics of nature and wildlife preservation had a profound impact on the environmental movement, with his ecocentric or holistic ethics regarding land.[1] He emphasized biodiversity and ecology and was a founder of the science of wildlife management.[2] — Wikipedia

This country would be even further behind in it’s attempts to live in harmony with nature were it not for Leopold, and as much as I love the wild space I have to admit that I am way less ardent about my beliefs than he was but his work and his willingness to grow and change over a lifetime are an inspiration to many of us.

I mention particularly the idea of change and growth because he started out life in the Forest Service where he was extremely active in encouraging the extermination of varmints — including coyote and wolves — early in his career.  As he grew and learned more about the important role of predation in nature he completely flip-flopped his view and became as strong an opponent of attempting to regulate nature to suit man as he had been in favor.  I wish politicians could learn a few lessons from his willingness to see the truth as different from their own views and have the courage to change.

Not only are there interesting interpretive displays, there are also about 1 1/2 miles of easy trails on the Foundation property as well as a separate Aldo Leopold Nature Center found in Madison WI for public education.

Please, if you care at all about this planet — go visit.  Let this man’s spirit infuse you and perhaps you’ll live a little bit differently than you would if you never heard of him.

Cheers, thanks for stopping and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


6 thoughts on “Aldo Leopold and the Foundation

    • This place was really inspiring to me. I didn’t talk about the interp display they had chronicling the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. A truly sad story. But not related to Leopold except in the sense that if you don’t care about Momma Nature humans will make a muck of it through greed.

      We may have a chance to coffee — you and us — this winter. More on that when the kinks have been worked out. I think we have a gig not far from you.

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