Stuff I Wrote Elsewhere, Aldo Leopold Edition

I’ve been working for the paper on a piece about Aldo Leopold’s years in Albuquerque. It’s a setup for a conference next month, and an excuse to explore some of the issues Leopold’s legacy raises for use living in the desert Southwest today. Here’s a snapshot, from a walk around the University of New Mexico last week, where Leopold spent some of his early years:

But while Leopold might have a hard time recognizing the place, he would still recognize the birds. One of the central messages of Leopold’s work was that nature is not something that happens in far off places, but rather that it is all around us, and we are an integral part of it. For a story I’m working on, I had UNM ornithologist Chris Witt take me on a walk around campus Thursday morning. We saw Bushtits, Pine Siskins, a lovely little Ruby-Crowned Kinglet and the usual mass of American Wigeons and Mallards at the duck pond. He heard and saw an Audubon’s Warbler, though my eyes are not as quick, nor my ears as sharply tuned, as Chris’s.


  1. Leopold was an impressive guy. My favorite quote of his:

    The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little is known about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution to intelligent tinkering. Have we learned this first principle of conservation: to preserve all of the parts of the land mechanism?”

  2. I’m a huge fan of Leopold’s work, especially of his Rio Gavalin watershed

    I’m excited for you, John, that’s a great story to chase.

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