In 1990, forty-two years after Aldo Leopold completed A Sand County Almanac , it evoked, as it still does today, unusual loyalty. In the incident I have in mind, Steven Wright, then Vermont Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife and later president of Sterling College, was the dinner speaker for a workshop of the Vermont Audubon Council. At one point, quoting from A Sand County Almanac , he stopped and asked for a show of hands of those who owned a copy, and for another show of hands of those who did not. Then he left the hall without explanation. Coming back with eight copies, he passed them out to the eight nonowners, explaining in his wrap-up why every environmentalist should own one.
That spontaneous tribute led the council to undertake a creative and dramatic project. Oxford University Press sold us two thousand paperback copies of the Almanac at cost, we solicited funds, and we put the books in two thousand hotel and motel rooms along Route 7 in Vermont, beside the Gideon Bible. Many innkeepers and visitors were charmed. Local book sales of the Almanac jumped, and perhaps Aldo Leopold would be pleased to think that his environmental gospel made a few converts.
Our little organization had neither the energy nor the finances to continue, but in its small way the project made the same point about the timeless influence of Aldo Leopold that your article “A Signature on the Land” made in the September issue.