Lessons in Leopold’s Land Ethic
In his collection of conservation essays, "A Sand County Almanac," Aldo Leopold wrote of the spiritual dangers of not owning a farm. The first danger is thinking that breakfast comes from the grocery store. The second is that heat comes from the furnace. That isn’t such a problem around here, where folks still put up their own pickles and blackberry jam and cut firewood all summer to stoke the fire in February. Although we know the true cost of heat and putting food on the table, we sometimes don’t give it enough thought. Even land not directly responsible for growing the wheat for your morning toast needs care. Leopold spoke of a personal land ethic, how we respect, treat and protect the land. Treat the land right, and it will treat you right.
What brought this to my mind was the task of adding prescribed burn workshops to our MDC online calendar of events. Offerings by our Private Lands and Forestry divisions in Dent, Shannon and Carter counties means folks don’t have to travel far to get the information they need. And if they attend one of these workshops, they can borrow equipment from their private lands conservationist such as drip torches and water units to help them conduct a burn. Just in the next few months, there will be burn workshops, logger training, bird-house workshops, native plant workshops, field days for folks in the elk restoration zone and, of course, the Roadkill Café. All of the workshops provide information and/or training so Ozark-area residents can help take care of the land we all depend on.
History Doesn’t have to Repeat
Think for a minute of all the things that we depend on the land for in the Ozarks. There is the timber industry, hunting and recreation of all kinds. But it wasn't always this way. In 1926, Leopold took a hunting trip down the Current River and described the lack of turkey and deer. It has taken years and a tremendous effort by Missouri citizens, biologists and foresters to restore areas such as Peck Ranch to the point where it is rare you don’t see deer. It just makes sense to manage what we have now and not let history repeat itself with our resources.
To Learn More
We are incredibly lucky to live here in the Ozarks. We have land and streams that are in pretty good shape, and the folks who own property or utilize the plentiful public lands understand the fragile balance. For the most part, they want to do the right thing for the land. MDC is here to help you realize your goals, whether you are managing for deer and turkey, timber harvest, or you just go camping and leave no trace. For a listing of workshops in Carter, Shannon and Ripley counties, visit Twin Pines under “Related Information” below or call 573-325-1381.