At the turn of the 20th Century there were no restrictions on hunting, farming and the idea of conservation was non-existent. Animals were being hunted to extinction and their habitats were being destroyed. Adol Leopold was a major factor in the preservation of our natural world and not only made his presence known globally but was one of Wisconsin’s most beneficial citizens.
Born in Iowa in 1887, he was one of the first rangers in the newly establish United States Forest Service. He was assigned to the southwestern states. Later he was transferred to Madison, Wisconsin were he continued his observations on conservation. He made his home on a farm north of Madison on the Wisconsin River and published his first text book on wildlife management in 1937.
Leopold felt that there should be harmony between man and the land and was considered by some people to be the father of American conservation. He promoted the preservation of the wilderness. He was also instrumental in making the public aware of the devastation man had on the wild inhabitants of the land. This understanding came as he watched a wolf die and realized that without the wolf the deer population would increase and this would have a major impact on the vegetation.
Leopold and his family made a great strides in the ecology of central Wisconsin. On their farm known as “The Shack,” they planted trees to keep the area as it was meant to be and not as the stark European replanted forests. They brought back the wild prairie and re-established the ecology of the area. They did this by living the life of a pioneer family only giving back what they took from the land.
He died as he lived. While fighting a grass fire on a neighbor's property he had a heart attack. Fire is still a major danger to the Wisconsin ecology and property of the residents.
In 2007 the Leopold Center was built from pine trees planted by the family in the 1930’s. It is located near the original homestead it is open to the public with tours to the farm.
It is a good weekend trip for Milwaukee area residents.