Sand County Anniversary

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Published on: May. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

conservation commission. Much as in "Whither Missouri?" a decade earlier, he recognized the landowner and farmer as the "ultimate prime movers" in conservation.

In that speech he concluded that "if conservation can become a living reality anywhere, it can do so in Missouri. This is because Missourians," as he put it, "are not yet completely industrialized in mind and spirit, and I hope never will be."

While in St. Louis for the testimonial, Leopold also met with Charles Schwartz, who had been suggested by Leopold's children as the perfect artist to illustrate the collection of natural history essays he was preparing to publish.

Only days after completing arrangements for the illustrations with Schwartz, Leopold entered a hospital at the Mayo Clinic for delicate surgery to sever a nerve that had been causing painful spasms in his face. He was scheduled to return to Missouri the following March to present a paper, "Why and How Research?" at the North American Wildlife Conference, but had to avoid the strain of travel.

A month later, Leopold received a telephone call from Oxford University Press informing him that his book had been accepted for publication. He wrote to Charlie Schwartz about arrangements for the illustrations and left with his wife and daughter Estella for a spring planting trip at his Sand County shack. Five days later, on April 21, he was repairing tools at the shack when he spotted smoke across the marsh. While heading toward the flames with fire-fighting equipment, he suffered a heart attack and died.

That June, the front cover of the Missouri Conservationist had a drawing of Leopold by Charlie Schwartz. Inside were moving tributes by statesmen of the conservation movement, Werner Nagel, E. Sydney Stephens and William Elder. Leopold and Stephens are the only two people to have been honored with covers in more than 60 years of the magazine.

A Sand County Almanac, illustrated with Schwartz's pen and pencil drawings, appeared in October 1949 to good reviews. By the early 1970s the book had sold over a million copies. Aldo Leopold's reputation continued to grow until now he may be judged the most influential environmental thinker of the 20th century. The challenge he posed to Missourians to make conservation a living reality on private as well as on public lands continues to summon us all.

The Charlie Schwartz Connection

When Aldo Leopold recruited Charlie Schwartz (1914-1991) to illustrate A Sand County Almanac in 1947, Missourians became

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