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Green Fire: Evening at Egan presentation to celebrate life and legacy of Aldo Leopold

Posted: September 29, 2011 - 11:01pm
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In honor of the International Year of the Forest, tonight’s Evening at Egan presentation will feature a special screening of the film “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time,” and guest speakers from the US Forest Service. The film screening will take place at 7 p.m. at the UAS Egan Lecture Hall.

Although probably best known as the author of the conservation classic “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold is also renowned for his work as an educator, philosopher, forester, ecologist and wilderness advocate. “Green Fire” traces Leopold’s extraordinary career with footage from around the country and stories of how his conservation ideas continue to inspire people today.

According to Ray Massey, a public spokesman for the USFS Alaska region, “Aldo Leopold is considered to be the father of ecological thought when it comes to land. He was actually working for the Forest Service when he developed many of his ideas on conservation.”

The film is a production of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Center for Humans and Nature. Steve Dunsky, the producer and director of “Green Fire,” observes that even though Aldo Leopold died in 1948, his ideas are still relevant to today’s conservation issues.

“The older view of conservation saw the land as something for people to use,” Dunsky said. “Leopold’s land ethic envisioned people as part of the larger biotic community. In other words, we can take what we need from the ecosystem, but we also need to restore the health of the land.”

Dunsky notes that Leopold was the leader in the field of ecological restoration, the father of wildlife ecology, and a key creator of today’s public wilderness system.

“Green Fire” is the latest film project produced by Dunsky and his wife Ann. They have worked for the California region of the Forest Service for the past 20 years and their programs are shown in visitor centers, on television and in environmental film festivals. In 2005, the Dunskys and their colleague Dave Steinke produced the award-winning film, “The Greatest Good.”

“‘The Greatest Good’ is about the history of the USFS in the 20th century,” Dunsky said. “In many ways, “Green Fire” is the sequel because it presents a vision for the Forest Service in the 21st century.”

This Friday’s screening will be a spotlight on Leopold’s legacy in communicating to modern conservationists about understanding the relationship between people and nature.

Along with filmmaker Dunsky, Alaska Regional Forester Beth Pendleton will lead an audience discussion following the film. Pendleton, who has been the Alaska Regional Forester since March 2010, will speak about the film’s themes as they relate to the Tongass National Forest. As a regional forester, Pendleton oversees management of more than 22 million acres of National Forest System lands in Southcentral and Southeast Alaska. She works closely with the region’s diverse stakeholders and communities of interest, especially on issues related to forest restoration and strengthening rural community health.

Teresa Haugh, another USFS spokesperson, noted that the themes of the film will especially resonate with Southeast Alaskans.

“Like many people who live in and around the Tongass National Forest, Leopold was very much in tune with the land. He was aware of the wildlife, the beauty of nature and the changing of the seasons. Through his writing and his life’s work, he sought to preserve all of this for his family and for future generations.”

“We are really honored to be part of the university’s lecture series and we hope people come out to see the film.”

For more information, contact Teresa Haugh at 907-586-9337 or thaugh@fs.fed.us

Film details and trailer can be found at www.greenfiremovie.com

• Jennifer Nu is a freelance writer based in Juneau. Contact her at jennu.jnu@gmail.com

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