Husband, Thomas [faculty advisor, College of Environmental Life Sciences]
conservation; environmental protection; Rhode Island; exploration; nature
Since its publication in 1949, “A Sand County Almanac: With Sketches Here and There” has served as the benchmark for writing about the environment and nature. “Sand County” was written by famed environmentalist Aldo Leopold, who for most of his lifetime worked towards the conservation of wildlife, forests, and other natural resources. In “Sand County,” Aldo Leopold recounts his experiences and observations in various essays and journal entries from his many years of living in Wisconsin, as well his travels across the North American continent. With its publication following Mr. Leopold’s death, it changed the face of conservation, later inspiring other writers during the large scale environmental movements of the 60’s. Transcending similar efforts by others, though, is the beauty and ease in which Mr. Leopold describes such activities as traveling through time by studying tree rings, hiking with wolves in the shadows of great mountains, and even the travels of a lonely skunk in winter. These are not just mere stories: they are unique and beautiful memoirs written with a skill and intent unparalleled even today. In later chapters, Mr. Leopold further lays out his personal views on conservation and protection of nature in his supplementary section “The Land Ethic.”
In the vein of Aldo Leopold’s masterpiece, I have similarly set out to explore and document the natural wonders of southern Rhode Island. The physical similarities between Leopold’s Sand County and our South County are limited, but the opportunities for exploration and discovery remain ripe and open for the taking. Inspired by his words and teachings, during my four years of education at the University of Rhode Island I have explored the outdoors of South County. In several different chapters, I will recount my varied adventures around South County, from the southern shores of Block Island, through the Great Swamp on the South County Bike Trail, into the woods of Burlingame State Park, and to the beaches of Westerly and elsewhere. Every chapter is divided into two sections: one section being devoted to my personal memories and experiences, with the second half describing a particular environmental issue or topic that demands further attention.
I would like “A South County Almanac” to serve as a starting point for those with an interest in nature and wildlife in southern Rhode Island. That my collection of memories and stories, echoing those of environmental leader Aldo Leopold, may help to inspire and nurture the passion and love for nature that already exists for many living in South County would be a gift to future generations and our lovely South County as well.