Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Aldo Leopold
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 the schools.

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 Madison, Wisconsin.

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 the land.


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