Looking for conservation roots

 

I am on a kind of conservation pilgrimage up to Wisconsin, where I will meet people at Aldo Leopold Foundation, hike around the kettle moraines, where I first came to appreciate conservation. On the way there, I have stopped in Chicago to see the new CLT McDonald’s and on the way back I will be stopping off at Hoosier National Forest to talk to people doing prescribed burns for oak regeneration.

And I have been studying on the subject. I am finishing a biography of Aldo Leopold and will meet the author in Baraboo. I recently read a joint biography of Gifford Pinchot and John Muir. And just today I finished the audio biography of George Grinnell. I had not heard of him, but he personally knew Muir, Leopold, Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, Fredrick Law Olmsted, Stephen Mather and John Wesley Powell. Grinnell was a true connector, if less famous than those he connected.

Among his achievements was the creation of Glacier National Park. A glacier, a mountain and a lake there are named for him. He was both an active explorer and an intellectual. He wrote many articles about nature as well as a series of boys’ adventure books.

Grinnell was also a sort of anthopologist, writing about the Blackfeet, the Cheyenne and others. He was with Custer on the exploration of the Black Hills and was almost with him at Little Bighorn.

The man was active.

I have been thinking a lot about conservation and preservation. Grinnell was a hunter and believed in the need to hunt, but he leaned toward preservation, more like Muir than Pinchot. But I think the whole preservation-conservation division has been overtaken by events. I will write more about that when I get back from the pilgrimage.

Ash tree Armageddon.

I drove through Indiana and Ohio today and I had a lump in my throat the whole way that gave me a little sore throat and stress. The cause was all those dead ash trees. Ash were especially common in those states and especially along roads. The emerald ash borer killed almost all of them. It made me profoundly sad to see all that.

I take some solace in that some ash are resistant and maybe biotech can help, but I will not see the restoration in my lifetime.

Ash are beautiful trees. I loved to see them in early fall. Their leaves turned golden earlier than many other species and now so many are lost.

When I go up to kettle moraines, I will check the ash there and see what is coming up under them.

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