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Pillars of the Earth

April 17, 1998

Wisconsin’s environmental forefathers are honored

John Muir
John Muir Aldo Leopold
Aldo Leopold
Gaylord Nelson
Gaylord Nelson Wallace Stegner
Wallace Stegner
A Leopold family almanac
Four members of Aldo Leopold’s family will come together April 21 to share insights about the man who birthed the Wisconsin land ethic.

Nina Leopold Bradley, founder and director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, will be joined by her three living siblings to celebrate the inaugural lecture of the Aldo Leopold Lecture Series in Natural Resources, scheduled for April 21, 3:30 p.m. in the Wisconsin State Historical Society Auditorium. A public reception will follow the lecture.

Bradley will speak on “A Sense of Place;” siblings A. Carl Leopold, plant physiologist at Cornell University; Estella B. Leopold, palynologist at the University of Washington; and Luna B. Leopold, geomorphologist at the University of California- Berkeley will join Bradley following her talk to speak about their father.

Between the last century and this one, three influential naturalists established Wisconsin as a locus of the national environmental movement. While scholars at the UW and afterward, John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Wallace Stegner have inspired generations of environmentalists.

To honor these naturalists’ contributions, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters will present a special three-part conference April 18.

The forum will examine the formidable impact that these forefathers had on each other and on the legions of latter-day successors.

One of those successors is William Cronon, now UW–Madison’s Frederick Jackson Turner Professor of History, Geography and Environmental Studies. Cronon’s current project is a book about Portage, a setting linked to both Muir and Leopold.

“Muir resisted progress in the name of the wilderness, and Leopold struggled to discover how to remake both our science and our ethics to live more sustainably and non-destructively in the presence of the wild,” says Cronon, a participant in the event.

Stegner, the third in this environmental triumvirate, was a member of the UW Department of English. Stegner took an mutlidisciplinary approach to his work, exploring the relationship between culture and landscape (often Madison’s) in novels, short stories, essays and histories and more.

The forum will begin at 10 a.m. in the State Historical Society auditorium on Library Mall with the keynote address by Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope. Other forum participants will include Sierra Club chair Michael McClosky, Wilderness Society president William Meadows, Nina Leopold Bradley of the Aldo Leopold Foundation and retired Natural Resources Conservation Service chief Paul Johnson. Cronon and Thomas Vale, UW–Madison professor of geography also will take part, as well the naturalists’ biographers.

The premiere of the film “The Boyhood of John Muir” will follow the forum at 4 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater. Director Lawrence Hott and producer Diane Garey will be on hand to introduce their film. Tickets, $2.50 for students or $4.50 for others, are on sale at the Union Theater box office, 262-2201.

Nelson, who represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate from 1963- 81, will be honored beginning at 6 p.m. in Memorial Union’s Tripp Commons. The founder of Earth Day, Nelson sponsored much of the nation’s clean-air and clean-water legislation.

The forum, lunch and film package will cost $35 for general admission and $15 for students. The Nelson dinner is $25 or $50, with the additional $25 contribution supporting Academy environmental programs. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Richard Daniels or Gail Kohl at the Wisconsin Academy, 263-1692.