A Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration

Aldo & Leonardo, a partnership between Colorado Art Ranch and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, is a project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The project is inspired by the scientific wisdom of Aldo Leopold and the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Our endeavor is an interdisciplinary collaboration of artists and scientists designed to celebrate the lands, resources and opportunities protected by the Wilderness Act. In 2013, we are hosting one-month residencies in six diverse wilderness areas. Artists will work alongside wildland research scientists and gain firsthand knowledge of the wonders, complexities and challenges of our nation's wildest places. The result will be a body of work that creatively illustrates the value of wild areas and honors the scientific efforts to preserve wilderness for the next fifty years.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Respect to a Dynamic World

Photo &Blog ~Ryan Mudgett

The role of beauty and its position in conservation was always a very serious matter to Aldo Leopold, which can be seen in his most famous book A Sand County Almanac. Without finding simple pleasures in nature it may be quite difficult to listen to what your environment has to tell you. Leopold writes at the beginning of the section “Song of Gavilan,” “The life of every river sings its own song, but in most the song is long since marred by the discords of misuse.” Here he is speaking of a global cycle of anthropocentric perturbations which includes land and water misuse. He goes on to say “Overgrazing first mars the plants and then the soil. Rifle, trap, and poison next deplete the larger birds and mammals; then come a park or forest with roads and tourists. Parks are made to bring the music to the many, but by the time many are attuned to hear it there is little left but noise”(Leopold 159). This noise Leopold speaks of is best tied in at the end of the section where he writes That the good life on any river may likewise depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive, is a form of doubt not yet entertained by science” (Leopold 163). We can appreciate rivers by learning how to listen to their harmony. Each drainage and its corresponding riparian habitats have their own melody. It’s up to the listener to decide whether or not they enjoy the music or not.  It can be tough to appreciate all the splendors of nature when you are constantly reminded of all the harm we have done. I think it is time to find joy in all of the complexities that our wilderness provides us no matter what landscape you live in. There is nature everywhere, and don’t forget we humans are part of it as well.  Even if you are not quite sure what it is that makes your landscape so amazing, a sense of wonder can often lead into a journey of passion and stewardship for the land and waters that you call home.