Nature Bulletin No. 701 January 19, 1963
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Seymour Simon, President
Roberts Mann, Conservation Editor
ALDO LEOPOLD: 1886 -- 1948
This nature bulletin would not have been written--in fact, our
conservation department and its comprehensive program of outdoor
education might not exist -- except for a famous essay published in
1938 by a great philosopher, conservationist and professor of wildlife
management at the University of Wisconsin: Aldo Leopold.
He had a remarkable capability, bordering on clairvoyance, of looking
into the future. He penetrated into the meat of a problem, analyzed it,
and unerringly put his finger upon the solution. And he had a unique
knack of putting ideas into a few terse arresting words and phrases.
During the 1920's and 30's the American people, provided with a handy
means of going places -- the automobile -- became more and more
outdoor-minded. Unfortunately the average person, especially from
cities and metropolitan regions, was a relative stranger in the out-of-
doors. Those people did not know how to wisely use and fully enjoy
their own public property. They were carelessly or wantonly
destructive. The costs of operating and maintaining recreational areas
were becoming intolerable.
In that essay on outdoor recreation, "Conservation Esthetic", Professor
Leopold wrote: "To promote perception is the only true creative part of
recreational engineering.... Recreational development is a job not of
building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into
the still unlovely human mind. " Therefore, he reasoned, a principal
function of administration of recreational areas is to improve the quality
of public use.
That concept influenced the establishment of our conservation
department in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. It had and
continues to have tremendous influence upon the administration,
development, facilities and recreational uses of publicly owned lands in
the United States, Canada, and other countries.
Interpretive programs have been established in national, state,
metropolitan and county parks and forests. Outdoor education programs
are being conducted in many cities by park systems cooperating with
A man like Aldo Leopold just doesn't appear on our horizons out of
nowhere. He is the product of good breeding and a fine background. A
clue to Professor Leopold's attributes may be found in the characters of
his father, an aristocratic "pioneer in sportsmanship", and of his mother,
a noble matriarch. Those attributes were notable in his sister and
brothers, and transmitted to his children -- all of them remarkable
people. An amazing number of his former students are among the finest
research people in this country.
Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, on January 11, 1886. After
graduating from Yale and receiving his master's degree in forestry there
in 1909, he was employed by the U. S. Forest Service in the region with
headquarters at Albuquerque. He became Chief of Operations there
and, in 1924, Assistant Director of the Forest Products Laboratory in
In 1933 his classic book, "Game Management", was published and he
became professor of game management at the University of Wisconsin.
In 1943 he became a member of Wisconsin's Conservation Commission
and served with distinction until his death on April 21, 1948. Those are
but a few of the steps in the Feb. and March for naturalists' lectures to
school assemblies. * and I and all Americans are indebted. We can
honor him most by assuming personal responsibility for the welfare of
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Update: June 2012