What would Aldo Leopold think about Wisconsin conservation today? That is the question to be addressed by George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, in his presentation, “Game Management: Leopold’s Legacy and Wisconsin Culture” at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2 in the Viterbo School of Nursing Building Collins Auditorium room 196. The event is part of the La Crosse area observance of the annual Wisconsin Aldo Leopold weekend.
Since 2004, Wisconsin has designated the first weekend in March as a time to honor Leopold and his conservation legacy. Leopold, the author of The Sand County Almanac, is considered by many as the father of wildlife management and of the United States’ wilderness system. Wisconsin is grappling with game management issues in a politically charged atmosphere just as Aldo Leopold did when he served the state as a pioneering conservation commissioner in the 1940s. This year’s Leopold events are being sponsored in part by the Coulee Partners for Sustainability and the Mississippi Valley Conservancy.
Meyer was a Department of Natural Resources employee for 32 years and served as the DNR secretary from 1993–2001. He brings to his appearance both his practical experience and his appreciation for Leopold’s writing. He was a guest reader for a Lodi Reads Leopold event in 2003 when he wondered aloud why every community in the state wasn’t reading Leopold that weekend. A legislator in the audience responded that he would introduce that idea as legislation. The annual official state observance of Aldo Leopold’s legacy followed.
On Saturday morning, March 4, the local observance moves to the Visitor Center of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge on Brice Prairie. At 10 a.m., students from Professor Kelly Sultzbach’s University of Wisconsin-La Crosse environmental literature classes will be guiding a walk through the prairie and stopping along the way to share readings from A Sand County Almanac and their own writings about experiencing nature.
For families attending, there will be kids’ activities and crafts led by WisCorps Nature Teachers from 10 a.m.–noon.
The Saturday program will also include two showings of Green Fire, an inspirational film about Leopold’s life and legacy. The first showing will start at 11 a.m. and the second showing will begin at 1 p.m.
According to the Leopold Foundation, Leopold’s legacy is “to inform and inspire us to see the natural world as a community to which we belong.” The annual Leopold event is planned each year by representatives of a number of local environmental and conservation organizations.