Sand County Foundation’s national leadership in encouraging and strengthening private conservation is rooted in the sandy soil of Sauk County, Wisconsin. Subdivision of floodplain lands close to Aldo Leopold’s “Shack” and family farm was starting to destroy in the 1960s what Leopold had initiated. Reed Coleman, whose father, Tom, was a close friend of Leopold, along with a few friends and neighbors, took action. They forged a voluntary alliance of neighboring landowners, creating the Leopold Memorial Reserve.
This visionary and simple approach to conservation collaboration among neighbors ultimately comprised of 2,000 acres of private land. Sand County Foundation’s work reaches beyond Wisconsin to benefit land health on working lands across the United States.
Sand County Foundation secured landowner agreements and subsequently coordinated reserve-wide management and ecological research on the Leopold Memorial Reserve. The reserve’s private landowners demonstrated conservation improvement and inspired others to see their own land in new ways for more than four decades.
Such leadership in conservation on the land continues there since Sand County Foundation secured a conservation-minded buyer of its land. The future of private conservation management and landowner cooperation there is promising.