I am convinced that most Americans of the new generation have no idea what a decent forest looks like. The only way to tell them is to show them.
Wildflower corners are easy to maintain, but once gone, they are hard to rebuild.
Patriotism requires less and less of making the eagle scream, but more and more of making him think.
A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct.
In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.
There is value in any experience that exercises those ethical restraints collectively called sportsmanship.
To the mouse, snow means freedom from want and fear. ... To a rough-legged hawk, a thaw means freedom from want and fear.
The wind that makes music in November corn is in a hurry. The stalks hum, the loose husks whisk skyward in half-playing swirls, and the wind hurries on... A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind.
Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals.
Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how.
But wherever the truth may lie, this much is crystal-clear: our bigger-and-better society is now like a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to remain healthy.
Conservation is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution.
I know a painting so evanescent that it is seldom viewed at all except by some wandering deer. It is a river who wields the brush and it is the same river who before I can bring my friends to view his work erases it forever from human view. After that it exists only in my mind's eye.
There are degrees and kinds of solitude. I know of no solitude so secure as one guarded by a spring flood; nor do the geese, who have seen more kinds and degrees of aloneness than I have.
I have purposely presented the land ethic as a product of social evolution because nothing so important as an ethic is ever 'written'… It evolves in the minds of a thinking community.
Our tools are better than we are, and grow better faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides, but they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history, to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.
Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators... The land is one organism.
Every region should retain representative samples of its original or wilderness condition, to serve science as a sample of normality. Just as doctors must study healthy people to understand disease, so must the land sciences study the wilderness to understand disorders of the land-mechanism.
We stand guard over works of art, but species representing the work of aeons are stolen from under our noses.
Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to perserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
The only true development in American recreational resources is the development of the perceptive faculty in Americans. All of the other acts we grace by that name are, at best, attempts to retard or mask the process of dilution.
The good life of any river may depend on the perception of its music; and the preservation of some music to perceive.
We console ourselves with the comfortable fallacy that a single museum piece will do, ignoring the clear dictum of history that a species must be saved in many places if it is to be saved at all.
Having to squeeze the last drop of utility out of the land has the same desperate finality as having to chop up the furniture to keep warm.
The richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boone, nor even in the present, but rather in the future.
Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow... the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible.
All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.
Unsportsmanlike predator-killing is always rationalized as defence of property--usually someone else's property. This excuse is getting too thin to pass muster among thinking conservationists.
The worthiness of any cause is not measured by its clean record, but by its readiness to see the blots when they are pointed out, and to change its mind.
Relegating conservation to government is like relegating virtue to the Sabbath. Turns over to professionals what should be daily work of amateurs .
Above all we should, in the century since Darwin, have come to know that man, while now captain of the adventuring ship, is hardly the sole object of its quest, and that his prior assumptions to this effect arose from the simple necessity of whistling in the dark.
A river or stream is a cycle of energy from sun to plants to insects to fish. It is a continuum broken only by humans.
The rich diversity of the world's cultures reflects a corresponding diversity in the wilds that gave them birth.
No important change in ethics was ever accomplished without an internal chage in our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions.
A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.
In country, as in people, a plain exterior often conceals
hidden riches, to perceive which requires much living in and with.
Perhaps our grandsons, having never seen a wild river, will never miss the chance to set a canoe in singing waters glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in.
Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing.
I shall now confess to you that none of those three trout had to be beheaded, or folded double, to fit their casket. What was big was not the trout, but the chance. What was full was not my creel, but my memory.
Hydrologists have demonstrated that the meanderings of a creek are a necessary part of the hydrologic functioning. The flood plain belongs to the river. The ecologist sees clearly that for similar reasons we can get along with less channel improvement on Round River.
The real jewel of my disease-ridden woodlot is the prothonotary warbler. ... The flash of his gold-and-blue plumage amid the dank decay of the June woods is in itself proof that dead trees are transmuted into living animals, and vice versa.
The whole conflict thus boils down to a question of degree. We of the minority see a law of diminishing returns in progress; our opponents do not.
The art of land doctoring is being practiced with vigor, but the science of land
health is yet to be born.
Thus far we have considered the problem of conservation of land purely as an economic issue. A false front of exclusively economic determinism is so habitual to Americans in discussing public questions that one must speak in the language of compound interest to get a hearing.
Is it possible to preserve the element of Unknown Places in our national life? Is it practicable to do so, without undue loss in economic values? I say 'yes' to both questions. But we must act vigorously and quickly, before the remaining bits of wilderness have disappeared.
The elemental simplicities of wilderness travel were thrills. They represented complete freedom to make mistakes. The wilderness gave those rewards and penalties, for wise and foolish acts against which civilization has built a thousand buffers.
Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal.
Individual thinkers since the days of Ezekiel and Isaiah have asserted that the despoliation of land is not only inexpedient but wrong. Society, however, has not yet affirmed their belief.
A profession is a body of men who voluntarily measure their work by a higher standard than their clients demand. To be professionally acceptable, a policy must be sound as well as salable. Wildlife administration, in this respect, is not yet a profession.
The sweetest hunts are stolen. To steal a hunt, either go far into the wilderness where no one has been, or else find some undiscovered place under everybody's nose.
Ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down, in the last analysis, to a question of intellectual humility. The shallow-minded modern who has lost his rootage in the land assumes that he has already discovered what is important.
I do not imply that this philosophy of land was always clear to me. It is rather the end result of a life journey.
The problem, then, is how to bring about a striving for harmony with land among a people many of whom have forgotten there is any such thing as land, among whom education and culture have become almost synonymous with landlessness. This is the problem of conservation education.
Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.
A land ethic...reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in
turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land.
Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort
to understand and preserve this capacity.
What more delightful avocation than to take a piece of land and by cautious experimentation to prove how it works. What more substantial service to conservation than to practice it on one's own land?
Man always kills the thing he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?
The road to conservation is paved with good intentions that often prove futile, or even dangerous, due to a lack of understanding of either land or economic land use.
It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land, and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense.
Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness of it is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry.
There are idle spots on every farm, and every highway is bordered by an idle strip as long as it is; keep cow, plow, and mower out of these idle spots, and the full native flora, plus dozens of interesting stowaways from foreign parts, could be part of the normal environment of every citizen.
At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant.
Agricultural science is largely a race between the emergence of new pests and the emergence of new techniques for their control.
Like all real treasures of the mind, perception can be split into infinitely small fractions without losing its quality. The weeds in a city lot convey the same lesson as the redwoods; the farmer may see in his cow-pasture what may not be vouchsafed to the scientist adventuring in the South Seas.
Recreational development is a job not of building roads into lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind.
Our remnants of wilderness will yield bigger values to the nation's character and health than they will to its pocketbook, and to destroy them will be to admit that the latter are the only values that interest us.
How like fish we are: ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new thing some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook!
When some remote ancestor of ours invented the shovel, he became a giver: He could plant a tree. And when the axe was invented, he became a taker: He could chop it down. Whoever owns land has thus assumed, whether he knows it or not, the divine functions of creating and destroying plants.
I confess my own leisure to be spent entirely in search of adventure, without regard to prudence, profit, self improvement, learning, or any other serious thing.
The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism.
There is yet no ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus' slave-girls, is still property. The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.
A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke of the axe he is writing his signature on the face of his land.
Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism.
He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba. He who despairs of spring with downcast eye steps on it, unknowing. He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance.
There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech.
The hope of the future lies not in curbing the influence of human occupancy -- it is already too late for that -- but in creating a better understanding of the extent of that influence and a new ethic for its governance.
When we see land as a community to which we belong,
we may see it with love and respect. -- Perhaps such a shift of values can be achieved
by reappraising things unnatural, tame, and confined
in terms of things natural, wild, and free.
We face the question whether a still higher standard of living is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free.
If we lose our wilderness, we have nothing left, in my opinion, worth fighting for; or to be more exact, a completely industrialized United States is of no consequence to me.
The drama of the sky dance is enacted nightly on hundreds of farms, the owners of which sigh for entertainment, but harbor the illusion that it is to be sought in theaters. They live on the land, but not by the land.
Cease being intimidated by the argument that a right action is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits, or that a wrong action is to be condoned because it pays.
Bread and beauty grow best together. Their harmonious integration can make farming not only a business but an art; the land not only a food-factory but an instrument for self-expression, on which each can play music to his own choosing.
It is part of wisdom never to revisit a wilderness, for the more golden the lily, the more certain that someone has gilded it.
There are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to land.
Sometimes in June, when I see unearned dividends of dew hung on every lupine, I have doubts about the real poverty of the sands. On solvent farmlands lupines do not even grow, much less collect a daily rainbow of jewels.
Never did we plan the morrow, for we had learned that in the wilderness some new and irresistible distraction is sure to turn up each day before breakfast. Like the river, we were free to wander.
What a thousand acres of Silphiums looked like when they tickled the bellies of the buffalo is a question never again to be answered, and perhaps not even asked.
Conservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest.
It is disquieting to feel that the conversion into a National Forest or Park always means the esthetic death of a piece of wild country.
There is, as yet, no sense of pride in the husbandry of wild plants and animals, no sense of shame in the proprietorship of a sick landscape. We tilt windmills in behalf of conservation in convention halls and editorial offices, but on the back forty we disclaim even owning a lance.
Land health is the capacity for self-renewal in the soils, waters, plants, and animals that collectively comprise the land.
All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts.
Once you learn to read the land, I have no fear of what you will do to it, or with it. And I know many pleasant things it will do to you.
All history consists of successive excursions from a single starting-point, to which man returns again and again to organize yet another search for a durable scale of values.
We Americans, in most states at least, have not yet experienced a bear-less, eagle-less, cat- less, wolf-less woods. Germany strove for maximum yields of both timber and game and got neither.
Wilderness is a continuous stretch of country preserved in its natural state, open to lawful hunting and fishing, big enough to absorb a two weeks' pack trip, and kept devoid of roads, artificial trails, cottages, or other works of man.
Every farm woodland, in addition to yielding lumber, fuel and posts, should provide its owner a liberal education. This crop of wisdom never fails, but it is not always harvested.
To any one for whom wild things are something more than a pleasant diversion, (conservation) constitutes one of the milestones in moral evolution.
In farm country, the plover has only two real enemies: the gully and the drainage ditch. Perhaps we shall one day find that these are our enemies, too.
Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them.
A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct.
All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts... The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.
On motionless wing they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun on the crane marsh.
No one would rather hunt woodcock in October than I, but since learning of the sky dance I find myself calling one or two birds enough. I must be sure that, come April, there be no dearth of dancers in the sunset sky.
No matter how intently one studies the hundred little dramas of the woods and meadows, one can never learn all the salient facts about any one of them.
Land is not merely soil, it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.
To those who know the speech of hills and rivers straightening a stream is like shipping vagrants--a very successful method of passing trouble from one place to the next. It solves nothing in any collective sense.
How would you like to have a thousand brilliantly colored cliff swallows keeping house in the eaves of your barn, and gobbling up insects over your farm at the rate of 100,000 per day? There are many Wisconsin farmsteads where such a swallow-show is a distinct possibility.
The life of every river sings its own song, but in most the song is long marred by the discords of misuse.
There is, as yet, no sense of pride in the husbandry of wild plants and animals, no sense of shame in the proprietorship of a sick landscape.
Tell me of what plant-birthday a man takes notice, and I shall tell you a good deal about his vocation, his hobbies, his hay fever, and the general level of his ecological education.
That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.
Conservation viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land.
There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.
The wind that makes music in November corn is in a hurry. The stalks hum, the loose husks whisk skyward in half-playing swirls, and the wind hurries on.... A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind.
Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind.
In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.
We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.
One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring.
Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers.
Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.
A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient.
Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a shovel.