Aldo Leopold is sometimes referred to as ‘The Father of the Conservation Movement.’ His ideas on wildlife management and environmental ethics were developed a century ago, and are still in use today. Now, a new documentary looks at his life, his influence, and at his connections to Arizona. Mark Duggan talks with Jeannine Richards, Education Director at the Baraboo, WI-based Aldo Leopold Foundation. Richards and Duggan discuss Leopold’s legacy and his experiences in Arizona. Leopold served as a forest ranger for what was then known as the Apache National Forest in eastern Arizona. He recounted his Arizona experiences in two essays, ‘Thinking Like A Mountain’ and ‘Escudilla.’ The documentary ‘Green Fire, Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time’ is screening at theaters nationwide through Winter 2012.
Story by Mark Duggan
In the essay Thinking Like A Mountain, Aldo Leopold outlines his thoughts about wildlife conservation. He relates an experience he has shooting a wolf:
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something only known to her and the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger itch. I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean a hunter’s paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
–Aldo Leopold, ‘Thinking Like A Mountain’
The other essay, Escudilla, tells of a forest service program to wipe out grizzly bear on Escudilla Mountain, a prominent peak in far eastern Arizona. Early in the essay, he writes:
There was, in fact, only one place from which you did not see Escudilla on the skyline: that was the top of Escudilla itself. Up there you could not see the mountain, but you could feel it. The reason was the big bear.
Leopold later concludes his essay with:
Escudilla still hangs on the horizon, but when you see it you no longer think of bear. It’s only a mountain now.
–Aldo Leopold, ‘Escudilla’