ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Aldo Leopold is known and revered for helping create the idea of keeping wilderness wild.
And the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico was the first of the country’s wilderness areas to be protected from human intrusion.
The 72-minute movie of Leopold’s life story, “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time,” will be shown today at the Open Space Visitor Center, preceded by a discussion of the film by videographer Barry Kirk.
Kirk, who is a partner with the Albuquerque-based production company Southwest Productions, spent several years on the project, filming in New Mexico, Arizona and Wisconsin.
Leopold, who lived a number of years in Albuquerque and was among the first presidents of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, was one of the nation’s leading conservationists.
But he wasn’t always such an advocate.
In his book, “A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There,” Leopold described his shooting and killing of a wolf in an Arizona forest, which helped spur his change of heart and lent itself to the title of the movie.
“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes,” Leopold wrote. “I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”
Kirk said they filmed on location at that spot in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, finding the experience interesting.
Also interesting was spending time on location with director Steven Dunsky and editor Ann Dunsky, a husband-and-wife team who work for the U.S. Forest Service.
“What’s really great is you end up meeting some people and get to travel and spend hours and hours in vans driving across New Mexico and Arizona and you get to know these people and do a great film,” said Kirk, who has worked on projects for National Geographic and Discovery Channel.
Curt Meine, who wrote the official Leopold biography, “becomes our tour guide through the film,” Kirk said. “He is extremely knowledgeable.”
Following the presentation and the showing of the film, Kirk will field questions about the project and about Leopold, holding to better educate people about conservation issues.
“First of all, it’s an opportunity to learn a little bit of the history of the area of the area we live in,” he said. “The concept of conservation and the idea that Aldo Leopold points out that one of the most difficult things we can do is live on a piece of land without changing the piece of land. This is an opportunity for people to learn about how to take care of our ecosystem.”
— This article appeared on page 26 of the Albuquerque Journal