Part I: A Sand County Almanac
“EACH YEAR, after the midwinter blizzards, there comes a night of thaw when the tinkle of dripping water is heard in the land.”
January – June
Aldo Leopold begins his adventures in the rural areas of Madison Wisconsin. The founder of the Wilderness society Leopold teaches us about nature and the world around us despite our own role in nature. Leopold wanted to drive forward the idea how nature has a direct response to the history and interaction between man and beast. He believes that not only natural disaster can devastate ecology, but also humans effect the environment on a grand scale.
July – December
As we measure acres of land, Leopold measures the amount of land by how far he can walk. Leopold believes that un-regulated farming practices in Sand County has depleted the nutrients of the soil and decreased the value of the land significantly. The true cost is reflected in the use of machines and people. He writes, “We only grieve for what we know.”
Just as property values and parcels of land have boundaries and maps. Plants are restricted by parcels, however when free to bloom, they rise along the mountain tops and spread along natural corridors directed by seasonal changes and the natural spirit of the forest.
As you walk through the forest it leaves you clues in the form of tracks. You can spot signs of birds and patterns of flight. You many run across a tree with scratch marks on its bark like the clawing of a bear.
Part II: The Quality of the Landscape
“So withdredge and dyke, tile and torch, we sucked the cornbelt dry, and now the wheatbelt. Blue lake becomes green bog, green bog becomes caked mud, and caked mud becomes a wheatfield.”
The crane often seen as a majestic creature was overlooked by the settlers as they began to create bogs and drain the swamps needed to water their crops. Farmers of Sand County suffer from drought, and poor soil conditions due to the lack of water and natural sediment carried in from the swamps to help keep the soil moist and fertile. Efforts were made to remove these man made bogs, but little could be done to restore the swamps. Roads and fences now separate the natural landscape and prevent restoring native areas to what they once were.
Part III: A Taste for Country
“The hawk, as a lethal agent, is the perfect flower of that still utterly mysterious alchemy – evolution. No living man will ever understand the instinct of predation that we share with our raptorial servant.”
As an avid hunter, Leopold begins to challenge those who believe they are doing a service by eliminating the natural predation of the area so that they can increase the numbers of mule deer and elk in the area. Changes to the natural landscape can quickly take over the health of the prarie due to overgrazing by mule deer and elk populations.
Despite, those who hunt as a hobby seem to fully understand the need for reduced numbers, and the challenges in which they match wits with the surrounding country to help preserve the country sides, however others who hunt once a year may not fully understand how he has harvested nature as a trophy giving way to a natural sport, but fails to “sum up” how machinery has helped the hunter change his landscape to fit his needs. Leopold hopes to disprove the need to that the depletion of one species helps relieve the needs of another.
Part IV: The Upshot
“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. Despite nearly a century of propaganda, conservation still proceeds at a snail’s pace; progress still consists largely of letterhead pieties and convention oratory.”
Human consumption and use of land must involve not only an ethical, societal and democratic relationship, but it must gage the land in which to protect our natural resources and work toward preservation. Leopold believed that it is up to communities as well as governments to help preserve our natural landscape. Despite our knowledge of the land it is hard for us to fully understand what nature needs.
Leopold believed that we need to restore natural habitat by allowing for wildlife and natural predation to take place. We need to learn how to respect the land and the natural environment we are apart of. As the hunter we should become aware of the hunted, that we should learn the value of life and how to help protect it. We can only assume that we can tame the wilderness by clear cutting unhealthy forests, then by allowing young forests to grow. Leopold argues we need to create public policies that enhance outdoor recreation as well as the need to protect the earth’s evolutionary and natural state of being.