Explore the legacy of land care in the Leopold-Pines Conservation Area, cooperatively maintained by the Aldo Leopold Foundation and Pines Family. Now encompassing over 6 square miles of vital grassland and savanna habitat, these lands deliver conservation impact and offer demonstration of sustainable land practices. Beginning with Aldo Leopold's original purchases, this legacy has inspired a growing commitment to land care.
The Shack - a rebuilt chicken coop along the Wisconsin River - was once part of the Leopold family's cherished retreats and is the heart of the Aldo Leopold Foundation's programs. The landscape surrounding the Leopold Shack and Farm is known today as the Leopold Pines Conservation Area. Thousands of visitors each year are inspired through tours, classes, and other events in the same landscape that inspired Aldo. The site is a living classroom for exploring the ecological and ethical relationships between people and the soil, water, plants, and animals that collectively make up “the land.”
The land consists of soil, water, plants, and animals, but health is more than a sufficiency of these components. It is a state of vigorous self-renewal in each of them, and in all collectively.
Opened to the public in 2007, the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, or Leopold Center, serves as headquarters for the Aldo Leopold Foundation, a visitor center, and a meeting facility. Built to meet the highest standards in resource-efficient or “green” design and construction, our carbon-neutral center is home to several exhibits and other educational programming throughout the year.
Birding is a popular activity both on the Leopold Foundation property and the larger Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area (IBA). The IBA straddles the Wisconsin River in Sauk and Columbia counties west of Portage, WI. A 16,000-acre mosaic of marsh, grassland, floodplain, upland forest, and farmland composed of five large tracts, it is part of a larger international effort that first began in 1981.
Although the IBA appears “wild,” much of it is intensively managed and researched for wildlife conservation, especially birds. The site harbors most of the breeding bird species that naturally inhabit floodplains and adjacent uplands in central Wisconsin, including many declining grassland birds such as the red-headed woodpecker, bobolink, and meadowlark. As management efforts proceed, “missing” species characteristic of more extensive wetlands, grasslands, sand barrens, and forests stand a good chance of appearing here in the future.
The Important Bird Area includes five large tracts of land cared for cooperatively by the following partners: