MDC nature film fest honors genius of Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold

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Kansas City
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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- One laid the framework for modern wildlife management and wilderness preservation, the other awoke the world to chemical dangers and energized protections for ecosystems. America would be far less wild and beautiful without the works of Aldo Leopold and Rachael Carson.

The Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Burr Oak Woods Nature Center will celebrate their legacy with a free nature film day that includes award-winning movies about Leopold and Carson on Saturday, Dec. 29, in the center’s auditorium at 1401 N.W. Park Road in Blue Springs. Nature films will be shown throughout the day. Two feature films with spectacular nature scenes and fascinating history will be the highlight.

“A Sense of Wonder, the Story of Rachel Carson,” will be shown at 11 a.m.

“Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time,” will be shown at 1 p.m.

Eagles, osprey and hawks soaring over the Midwestern winter landscape owe much to Carson. Her 1962 book, Silent Spring, awoke the public to the toll on wildlife wrought by pesticides and chemicals such as DDT. At the time, she withstood fierce personal and professional attacks by the chemical industry. But the book gave momentum to a growing environmental movement. The rebound of creatures such as the bald eagle, recently removed from the endangered species list, and more discoveries by science have shown Carson to be a courageous visionary.

But Carson, who died in 1964, also enjoyed an earlier career as a published nature writer of magazine articles and books. She was an editor-in-chief of publications for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The film reveals a broader personality than oft presented by the quick historical references to her work on Silent Spring.

Leopold’s influences on America’s wild places and creatures are profound. Multiple definitions must be used to describe him: author, philosopher, scientist, ecologist, forester and a founding father of the movement for wilderness preservation. His 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, is a landmark in the modern conservation movement. His essays became a foundation for sustainable management of natural resources and an inspiration for working with nature.

“We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us,” he wrote. “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

Leopold, born and raised in Iowa, died in 1948. His philosophy and insight into nature, however, remains at guiding light in conservation today. The “Green Fire” movie won an Emmy award on Nov. 18 for the Best Historical Documentary at the 54th annual Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

All movies and activities at Burr Oak Nature Center are free. MDC, celebrating 75 years connecting people with nature, has a history interwoven with the work of Carson and Leopold.

More information on Burr Oak Woods Nature Center is available at