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From Aldo to Bennett, Roots of Wildlife Conservation Run Deep

Posted by Ritch Nelson, Nebraska State Wildlife Biologist on June 20, 2016 at 11:06 AM
Through landscape conservation, both agriculture and wildlife thrive.

Through landscape conservation, both agriculture and wildlife thrive.

Two-thirds of the land in the lower 48 states is privately owned, and these productive working farms, ranches and forests account for much of our nation’s open space and wildlife habitat. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to help agricultural producers integrate wildlife-friendly conservation practices on private lands.

We’ve seen lots of successes over the years, and I’ve written a poem that highlights these private lands successes as well as honors the roots of land ethic.

Wild Things        

A wise man named Aldo, once wrote of ‘wild things’
          The chance to find a pasque flower; chart when a bird sings.

The delight these things offer to enrich our lives.
          The harmony of nature for which man strives.

He joined up with Bennet on Wisconsin’s small farms,
          For good soil and water, to keep critters from harm.

T’was back in the thirties but the concept lives on.
          Conserve the resource before it is gone.

Degraded landscapes are taking a toll.
          Private landowners play a critical role.

Much wildlife lives on our working lands.
          We can save these key species if we all lend a hand.


The chickens that range ‘cross the southern High Plains;
          Where ranchers and partners are taking great pains,

To restore the grassland and supply more fodder.
          Nest success up; prescribed fires burn hotter.

While in the southeast, down under the pines,
          Plans for the tortoise are making headlines.

For they offer many a critter a home,
          In burrows dug deep in the sandy loam.

The outlook now better for a small, lowly toad.
          When we partner together and take a new road.

Out west in the spring a large bird is booming,
          And meanwhile threats to its life-blood are looming.

But livestock and grouse can be on the same page;
          Persist side by side in a vast sea of sage.

Throughout Appalachia, a warbler calls out –
          Counted in data, the biologists tout.

In southwest Montana a new day now dawns;
          Streams clear and free-flowing where the grayling will spawn.

The bunny fares better with succession set back;
          With the woodcock and ruffed grouse also on track.

The Oregon chub, a small fish – delisted;
          Thriving in floodplains with oxbows so twisted.

Big rivers that flow through the land of the bear,
          Support wooded swamps on lands we now share.

And with each new cub, the black bear secures
          A more solid footing, their future endures.


All that is done, the efforts we take,
          Is for the whole sum, not just for the sake,

Of one target species but rather the web;
          The cogs on a wheel, as time flows and ebbs.

There’ll always be more ‘wild things’ to conserve;
          To be more proactive and not just observe.       

Rural communities of neighbors and friends,
          Are much more complex for they do extend,

To soil and water, plants, animals, air –
          The whole ecosystem for which we care.

For shouldn’t we love, admire and respect?
          To build a land ethic to help us connect,
          The humans to resources, we dare not neglect.

Pulling together, we now take a stand
          To follow our calling, helping people help the land!

Read more of these successes in our new Working Lands for Wildlife magazine, now available for download.

Tags: Nebraska

categories Discover Conservation

10 response(s) to "From Aldo to Bennett, Roots of Wildlife Conservation Run Deep"

Mary Jo Kimble says:

Wonderful job. Great poem.

Smithe38 says:

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Maria Williams says:

Wow, nice poem; reminds me of what I've always wanted to do and maybe can do...

Kate Cammack says:

Bravo! We need more creativity in our sharing of our work and I applaud poetry as a great way to express ideas. A good expression of our ultimate mission.

Judy C. Zanardi says:

I love your poem. It is really wonderful. Aldo Leopold was also a poet, so he would be proud of your words.

Hud Minshew says:

Thanks. I really enjoyed that and how it tried to tie different regions together. I am sure you wished you could have included more regions :-)

Carzella says:

Wonderful poem that displayed ingenuity, talent, and a passion for the environment that depends on mankind.

Louise McPherson says:

What a heart for those things God gave us to protect!! Thank you for your empathy for all the work that goes on across this great land and acknowledging the work that has been done and spurring on the challenge of what will continue to be inspiring work for us all!!

Jan Pertruzzi says:

Loved your poem, it was spot on and very creative! Great job!

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