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New film about the life of Aldo Leopold to be screened Tuesday

November 06, 2011 at 06:25 PM

The State Journal-Register

A new feature film about the life, writings and legacy of Aldo Leopold — considered the father of the modern conservation movement — will be screened at the University of Illinois Springfield on Tuesday.

Leopold is best known for “A Sand County Almanac,” a collection of essays published in 1949, shortly after his death. His writings have inspired generations of conservationists, environmentalists and others with an affinity for the natural world.

The book has sold more than 2 million copies and has been translated into 10 languages.

The film, “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time,” is being presented free of charge and will be shown in Brookens Auditorium.

Buddy Huffaker, director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, Wis., and the film’s executive producer, will introduce the film and answer questions.

“We want to increase people’s awareness and create an introduction to Aldo Leopold,” Huffaker said.

Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1887. He began his career in 1909 working for the U.S. Forest Service, assigned to the Arizona and New Mexico territories.

In 1924, he moved to Madison, Wis., where he worked in the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory before becoming a professor of game management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The film chronicles Leopold’s journey from young forester to university professor and how those experiences shaped his thinking about the relationship between people and the land.

To Leopold, conservation was about more than saving natural resources.

Leopold said his concept of a “land ethic” required “a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land.

“Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal,” he wrote. “Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.”

“The modern concept of sustainability was certainly informed and shaped by Leopold’s ideas,” Huffaker said.

Since “A Sand County Almanac” is more than 60 years old, Huffaker said the film includes some examples of Leopold’s legacy at work today.

“We wanted to tell Leopold’s life story, but what we try to do is intersperse examples from today about how Leopold’s Land Ethic is inspiring conservation today,” he said.

Examples range from urban gardens and tiny prairie preserves in Chicago to stories of endangered wolves and cranes making a comeback.

“We wanted it to feel contemporary as far as the characters on the screen and the resonance of the message,” Huffaker said.

“His ideas are still relevant, and we want people to understand that there is work going on in their community that they could be involved in and create a Land Ethic for the 21st century.”

Huffaker said he hopes the film can connect with people of varied interests, from hunters and anglers to birders and prairie enthusiasts.

“One of our hopes is to get all those people back into the same room and reignite some conversations,” he said. “There are a lot of things we can agree on.”


Aldo Leopold Foundation

“The five children of Aldo and Estella Leopold created the foundation with the intent to carry forward their father’s vision,” said Leopold Foundation director Buddy Huffaker.

“The foundation also is entrusted with the care of the Leopold farm and is executor of Leopold’s literary estate,” he said.


Want to go?

What: “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time”

Where: Brookens Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield

When: Tuesday, Nov. 8; environmental fair starts at 5:30 p.m. with film at 7 p.m.


There is no admission fee for the screening.

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