January 15th, 2014 by

I’d like to take a moment to belatedly celebrate the anniversary of the birth of one of conservation’s most influential figures, Aldo Leopold, who would have turned 127 over the weekend.

Leopold was a conservationist, forester and philosopher. He was also a father of five and raised his children with the same values of wildlife-friendly land-use as he embraced himself. In fact, his oldest son, Starker Leopold, went on to use those principles in drafting a report for the National Park Service, widely known simply as “The Leopold Report,” using his father’s teachings to shape the future of land-management in a way still reverberating today.

Gila National Forest.

Gila National Forest. Photo by Brandon Oberhardt; Credit US Forest Service Gila National Forest

Aldo Leopold was a part of the early days of the U.S. Forest Service, where he went to work after his graduation from Yale Forest School in 1909. He was also instrumental in securing the first-ever designation of a “wilderness area” for the Gila National Forest in 1924, one year after he published The Last Stand of the Wilderness, an appeal in American Forests magazine entreating readers to recognize the need for such wilderness areas — and offering Gila as a prime example — before it was too late.

Yes, he was also a writer. His most famous work is A Sand County Almanac, a collection of essays published in 1949, a year after his death. He also published several works in American Forests in addition to The Last Stand of the Wilderness. He was a regular correspondent of the editor’s and served as a Vice President in the 1940s. We were then known as the American Forestry Association.

I encourage you to check out The Last Stand of the Wilderness here on americanforests.org or read more on how his son carried his legacy forward in our latest issue of American Forests. Yes, that’s the same American Forests that Leopold published in, now in its 119th year. You can become a member to have it delivered to your mailbox. Of course, things have changed a lot since then. Our magazine these days is in gorgeous full color, printed on Forest Stewardship Council-certified, responsibly-sourced paper. I suspect Leopold would have approved.