U.S. Forest Service

The Aldo Leopold Centennial Commemoration

Capitol Christmas Tree 2009 is also a celebration of Aldo Leopold. One of the nation’s first foresters, ecologists and environmentalists, Leopold has often been called the Father of Wildlife Management. Born in Iowa in 1887, Aldo Leopold attended Yale University where he earned a master’s degree in Forestry. A graduate armed with a strong desire to study nature, Leopold traveled to the Southwest to pursue a career with a new agency, the United States Forest Service. Stationed in Arizona and New Mexico, he was charged with mapping the western wilderness and identifying natural resources. Amazingly enough, Leopold embarked upon his discoveries before Arizona was even admitted to the Union.

Living in the rugged mountains of northeastern Springerville, Arizona, Aldo Leopold documented his exploration of the region. While identifying the flora and fauna of the vast terrain, now known as the Apache Sitgreaves Forests, Leopold authored extensive essays on ecology. His insight into the process and life force of nature framed the discussion for modern conservation.

For 18 years, Aldo Leopold worked and revealed the secrets of the Southwest’s largest forests. His extensive analysis of the region, which included wildlife inventory, investigated the fragile relationships that occur in nature. He became a vocal advocate of understanding the impact of nature and land ethics. Leopold began a movement towards ecology and the impending settlement sweeping across the western United States. Ever the innovative thinker, Aldo Leopold gave voice to the need of environmental stewardship, forestry management and public dialogue of these issues.

The states of Arizona and New Mexico, in partnership with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, will celebrate the legacy of this pioneer conservationist with a centennial commemoration. In the 100 years since Leopold began his critical work, his influence is still relevant. The goal of the celebration is to engage citizens in a meaningful commitment to promise our children the inheritance of a beautiful and healthy physical environment.

When Aldo Leopold was a young man exploring the Apache Sitgreaves Forests, the Capitol Christmas Tree selected for 2009 was only a sapling. As Arizona gifts the nation with the holiday’s most iconic symbol, it is only fitting that the ideals of Aldo Leopold are also celebrated.



United States Forest Service