Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

DNR Secretary: Aldo Leopold's legacy alive on renamed trails

News Release Published: June 4, 2009 by the Central Office

Contact(s): Joanne M. Haas, DNR Secretary’s Office, (608) 267-0798
Lisa Marshall, Tourism Communications Coordinator, (608) 267-3773
Kelley VanEgeren, Aldo Leopold Nature Center Communications Director, (608) 221-0404

Tourism Secretary, Leopold's granddaughter help cut ribbon to Leopold state system

MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank today helped Aldo Leopold's granddaughter cut the ribbon designating the state's recreational trails as the "Aldo Leopold Legacy Trail System" during a ceremony at the Lussier Family Heritage Center.

Legislation renaming the state's 42 trails covering 1,728 miles after Leopold, often referred to as the nation's "father of wildlife management," was passed and signed into law by Gov. Jim Doyle during the 2006-08 session.

"The legacy of Aldo Leopold is living all around us today," Secretary Frank said at the morning outdoor ceremony. "Aldo Leopold wanted people to see and to understand the land - and to enjoy that understanding. It's hard to come up with a better way for all ages to see, to understand and to enjoy that connection to the land than by using any of Wisconsin's 42 trails."

Senate Bill 161 renaming the trail system was sponsored by Sen. Mark Miller of Monona, and was supported by the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona and the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo. Both organizations are partners with the DNR on this project.

Joining Frank at today's ceremonial ribbon-cutting was Tourism Secretary Kelli A. Trumble, Leopold's granddaughter - Trish Stevenson, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Aldo Leopold Nature Center Board Director Rick Phelps, Sen. Miller and members of conservation, recreation and tourism organizations.

Nina Leopold Bradley, daughter of the late famed conservationist and author of essays included in A Sand County Almanac, planned to participate but declined due to health reasons. Her daughter, Trish Stevenson, read her mother's statement which began with a wish Aldo Leopold could have been there to witness the celebration.

"The world has changed in many ways since Aldo Leopold died in 1948 - perhaps the most significant are the barriers we have erected between ourselves and nature," Leopold Bradley said in her statement read by her daughter. "Wisconsin's splendid trail system, being named for Aldo Leopold, will surely be useful in penetrating those barriers. As our citizens walk and bike these trails, they may gradually discover a new connection with the natural world - a slow sensitizing of people to land."

Secretary Trumble said the new trail signs remind travelers of Wisconsin's history of stewardship and those who inspired it. "With the renaming of the trail system, we celebrate Aldo Leopold as one of Wisconsin's original visionaries and honor his vision of seeing the natural world as a community to which we belong," she said. "Our precious natural resources inspire and define the state's tourism experience, and connect people in remarkable ways."

Secretaries Frank and Trumble also urged the audience to mark two dates to kick off the summer season in Wisconsin: June 6 - National Trails Day; and June 7 - Wisconsin State Parks Open House Day.

National Trails Day began in 1993 as a nationwide celebration to introduce all to the health, social and educational benefits along with family fun of using trails. Wisconsin State Parks Open House Day means free access to parks, forests and trails, giving all a chance to see the vacation opportunities not far from their back yards.

To learn where you can find the closest Aldo Leopold Legacy Trail, state park or more about Aldo Leopold, visit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Travel Wisconsin [exit DNR], Aldo Leopold Nature Center [exit DNR] and Aldo Leopold Foundation [exit DNR].