By Aldo Leopold

We will be able to position this publication at the shelf that holds the writings of Thoreau and John Muir. San Francisco ChronicleThese unbelievable graphics of the wildlife discover the breathtaking range of the unspoiled American panorama -- the mountains and the prairies, the deserts and the coastlines. a beautiful tribute to our land and a daring problem to guard the area we adore.

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Sample text

They did not eat my oak, whose bark was already too tough and thick for mice. It was likewise in 1870 that a market gunner boasted in the American Sportsman of killing 6000 ducks in one season near Chicago. Rest! cries the chief sawyer, and we pause for breath. Our saw now cuts the 1860’s, when thousands died to settle the question: Is the man-man community lightly to be dismembered? They settled it, but they did not see, nor do we yet see, that the same question applies to the man-land community.

At one period it advanced so far southward that spruce and other ‘rear guard’ species grew to and beyond the southern border of Wisconsin; spruce pollen appears at a certain level in all peat bogs of the region. But the average battle line between prairie and forest was about where it is now, and the net outcome of the battle was a draw. One reason for this was that there were allies that threw their support first to one side, then to the other. Thus rabbits and mice mowed down the prairie herbs in summer, and in winter girdled any oak seedlings that survived the fires.

In that year John Muir offered to buy from his brother, who then owned the home farm thirty miles east of my oak, a sanctuary for the wildflowers that had gladdened his youth. His brother declined to part with the land, but he could not suppress the idea: 1865 still stands in Wisconsin history as the birth-year of mercy for things natural, wild, and free. We have cut the core. Our saw now reverses its orientation in history; we cut backward across the years, and outward toward the far side of the stump.

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