Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Thoughts on Aldo Leopold ...

December 28, 2005

[Note to the reader: This is something I began writing with the intent of publishing it as a pamplet for distribution. It remains a "work in progress" that is far from complete. I invite your comments, questions, and suggestions... my goal is to have this completed by Earth Day of 2007... with your help... the intent is to raise for discussion many points that I think Leopold failed to adequately address... since his writings and thinkings have endured, I think Leopold himself would have welcomed a friendly critical discussion given the terrible state of our living environment and the consequences of global warming perniciously looming before us which places our very survival at risk--- Alan, December 28, 2006]

What is Aldo Leopold saying, and what is his message?

By: Alan L. Maki

“A clean, healthy, and safe environment for ourselves and our children: water you can drink and air you can breathe. Polluters pay for the damage they cause.” From---“Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate” by George Lakoff

As part of a question for a final exam in a nature writing class, we were asked to comment on Aldo Leopold’s work. Two paragraphs from his Sand County Almanac [the book containing the writing is, “Nature Writing,” Finch and Elder; College Edition (page 384)], the particular paragraphs:

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.

This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these “resources,” but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state.”

I am presenting my essay in the spirit of creating dialogue and discussion and I look forward to your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Like in his writings generally, I am not sure that Aldo Leopold had any really clear messages in what he was saying--- except for a few. Leopold was the quintessential metaphysical philosopher, in my opinion. Almost all of his arguments were very ambiguous if we begin to consider them closely. This is not to say that Leopold offered us nothing of importance to consider; quite the contrary, in fact.

However, so ambiguous were his musings, writings, and lectures that almost everyone relies on something that he wrote, or said, to support their own arguments no matter where they are coming from; from the ardent defender of capitalism and free enterprise, to the socialist. These two paragraphs are as important for what they don’t say as for what they do say.

In these two paragraphs Leopold is discussing the need for creating a “land ethic.” He is also discussing and defining what that land ethic should consist of while he admonishes industrial society in the way it ruins the land and the entire “enlarged community;” coming ever so close to pointing an accusatory finger at the rapacious capitalist system, but then backs off from carrying his thinking that far.

In the third paragraph that follows the first two on page 384, Leopold boils the two paragraphs down, and tells the reader very briefly, yet very concisely, how the “land ethic” changes the role of human beings--- a role that has to be changed in order for a “land ethic” to take hold. Here, Leopold departs somewhat from the metaphysical, and writes in a Darwinian style, “In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such [3rd paragraph. P. 384].”

However, Leopold never grapples with the class question, and uses the term “homo sapiens” in a kind of generic way, which becomes a real problem because, in reality, one class--- the capitalist class--- is most responsible for environmental degradation and ruin, and not humanity collectively. After all, even today, working people have very little say in anything of importance in the United States. The owners of the mines, the mills, and the factories are the real decision makers in this country, and have been, for over one-hundred and fifty years. How can all of humanity be blamed for the decisions of a small minority? One cannot blame working people for the environmental damage that the capitalists are responsible for anymore than one could blame slaves for slavery, or blame Native Americans for losing the struggle for sovereignty over their Nation.

What is needed is more than to create a “land ethic,” because a “land ethic” cannot be created in an economy that sees everything, including land, plants, animals, and even the soil and water as commodities--- like labor--- to be bought and sold. A “land ethic” must become a part of a much broader way of thinking that challenges capitalism. Leopold saw the dimension of land as a “commodity [and he thought land and resources being commodities was a bad idea],” but he never saw the “commodity” as something peculiar to the capitalist system; if he did, he did not state this.

In fact, Leopold is so ambiguous, or rather non-committal--- he never, ever, uses terms like capitalism, socialism, class, or class struggle--- that everyone from socialists, to anarchist Earth Firsters who spike trees, to “deep ecologists,” and even conservative “enviro-capitalists” all claim Leopold as one of their own, and use his writings for justification of their positions on a variety of questions pertaining to the environment.

In the fourth paragraph that follows on page 384, Leopold writes, “In human history, we have learned (I hope) that the conqueror role is eventually self-defeating…” and goes on to enlighten us as to what makes the “community clock tick,” which more or less implies that the conqueror has learned a lesson. Leopold’s “hope” can be set aside because we know for a fact that as these words were written the American empire was forging its place in the world, and U.S. imperialism was replacing French and British colonialism, while at the same time it was parasitically taking over the spoils of defeated German and Japanese imperialism. In fact, American big-business was in the process of establishing itself as the new ruler all over the world, which was in direct conflict with everything that Leopold was saying that he was for, but which he did not speak out against. I tend to think Leopold really “hoped” that everyone would understand that what he was saying in the two paragraphs in question would share his idea about “the land ethic.” Hope and reality are two different things. “Hope” cannot replace enforcement of environmental legislation. “Hope” cannot halt the destruction of our environment. Hope needs to be combined with concrete action; and action needs to focus on the concrete. I think Leopold tends to place a lot of confidence in hoping business, industry, and politicians will eventually do the right thing after they are educated. In real life, this is not what happens. Profits take precedence over the environment in our country no matter how well educated people are. It is very ironic that even the forestry industry quotes Leopold in claiming that they are “greening” their operations.

Here in the United States, more environmental damage was done to our lakes, rivers, and the land during the years 1925 to 1948 than what had been done by human beings in the preceding 10,000 years combined--- capitalism had quite literally, gone wild. “The land” had only a slight reprieve during the depression years because industry came to an abrupt halt.

Leopold is very complex as a writer. I think on the one hand he has quite a lot to say about what is needed for a “Land Ethic,” but he feared to tread in an area that is considered “taboo” in America, that is, the questioning of the capitalist system and support for an alternative cooperative socialist system. I have read quite a bit of Leopold’s writing, and I can’t remember him ever using the words “capitalism” or “socialism.”

On one question I have always thought it strange that Leopold apparently never took a position, and that is on the question of the arms race, including nuclear war, and war in general, because when a country uses its resources to build up a military and than uses those weapons in war, there can be no greater destruction to the environment, not only in bombs dropped and the carnage of humans, but the destruction of magnificent forests and natural areas. It is almost like Leopold did not see the connection between militarism and the destruction of the environment and ecosystems; or even consider how much of a country’s natural resources are wasted on militarism… how much iron ore is required, how many trees have to be cut, how many scarce resources are needed to harden the steel, how much oil is consumed, or even the vast quantities of food that have to be produced to feed fighting armies; not to mention the even greater amounts of resources required to rebuild in the aftermath of war. Working people on the Iron Range made this connection… the graffiti can still be seen on a Minnesota Highway 53 overpass north of Virginia: “Tanks, no t[h]anks,” a reference to the [successful] struggle that took place against turning northern Minnesota into a vast military training ground for army tanks that would have destroyed much of the remaining pristine qualities of northern Minnesota. It is hard to understand how Leopold could not have seen that when a nation uses its resources in preparation for wars and to wage wars it is like that nation dumps its resources into the ocean.

I have to wonder why someone of Leopold’s standing would not have joined hands with Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists, philosophers, writers, civil rights activists, and trade unionists of his day in condemning war and militarism? Certainly among these two paragraphs we are considering, Leopold could have presented a very strong case for peace and against war from the perspective of the affects of militarism and war on the environment and ecosystems--- the sheer madness of the tremendous waste.

One could make the argument that when Leopold wrote Sand County Almanac just prior to his death, that there was a great deal of fear in the United States and almost every single teacher, instructor, or professor who engaged his/her students in discussion, dialogue, and debate around these social/economic questions lost their jobs, and were blacklisted for many years. However, Leopold began his writing career as a conservationist at about the same time tremendous movements developed against capitalism, at a time when some of the most well-known professors, writers, and scientists were in the forefront of the struggles against capitalism, and some, like Albert Einstein--- an ardent environmentalist--- never retreated or took a single step backwards, nor bowed before Joseph McCarthy’s predecessors who even tried to tar and feather Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins--- an ardent environmentalist in her own right--- as a “communist.”

In fact, the very county Leopold was writing about had a very active socialist movement among the farmers at the time, which he never mentions. Tremendous struggles took place in Douglas County against farm foreclosures and evictions as bankers attempted to move those who could not pay on their mortgages off the land; although, Leopold does mention that much of the public land was abandoned or foreclosed on in his writing. Many of these farmers had fought for conservation measures that the Roosevelt Administration implemented to protect the “land,” and these militant socialist farmers who had been supporters of “fighting Bob Lafollette” had a deep “land ethic” even before Leopold coined the term.

I think Leopold had a lot of weaknesses in his analysis, and in his thinking generally. His real weakness was in history where he did not understand the role of “ownership,” “class,” and the “class struggle” as it related to the environment, although he did question and challenge private “ownership” of the land from time to time, but than he also thought there was some good to be had from private ownership of the land; but, even here he was ambiguous… and obviously felt that family farmers and small ranchers would carry forward the “land ethic,” even though their demise at the hands of big agri-business was already evident at the time of his death. I think Leopold even felt the forestry industry could be counted on to look after our forests, which I don’t think we can.

At times he philosophically questioned in his typical metaphysical way what might have happened if the Indians had been victorious against the conquerors [last paragraph p. 384]; but again, he never really seemed to grasp that the Indians were conquered because this was a requirement that needed to be met in order for capitalism to flourish and thrive on the continent. Certainly Leopold had to have been aware of the struggles of Native Americans to defend their lands and the struggles for sovereignty in his day; but he had nothing to say about these contemporary issues of the time. I think he “played it safe,” knowing there were “limits” to American democracy as to how much, or rather--- what--- one could say safely in America. And if you got too specific, you would be silenced… so metaphysical abstractions were Leopold’s “safety net.”

However, with these criticisms stated, I think Leopold’s major strength is that he successfully created the groundwork and laid a strong foundation for a widespread and much needed debate, reflected in these two paragraphs, that even if he did not consider some very basic and fundamental issues and questions, others would, and the debate that has ensued with Leopold’s “land ethic” at the center, has been very important; and maybe we are the better for it that Leopold did not take any hard and fast stands on many of these issues because his thoughts might have gone the way of Albert Einstein’s essay, “On Socialism,” which is only now, once again, being discussed among growing small circles of conservationist and preservationist activists, as kind of a supplement to Leopold’s writings, after more than 50 years of government imposed obscurity; whereas Leopold’s thinking has been in the mainstream continually for many decades and kind of served as a “brake” on what might have been even worse environmental degradation; if that is imaginable.
I think it is important that Leopold’s writings be discussed as part of a much broader dialogue involving many different trains of thought in the community of the growing number of people who are environmentally conscious because as the debate reaches this wider public audience, and more people become involved in discussions of creating a “land ethic,” some kind of cooperative, democratic, socialist movement will take hold as people experience the negative impacts of capitalist globalization in their daily lives, which includes a degraded living environment both at work and in their communities, which not only negatively impacts people, but the land, water, air, plants, and animals which form the “community” that Leopold often importantly, and correctly referred to--- as in these two paragraphs--- as something that we as human beings are a part of, and not separate from.

Was Leopold for capitalism, or for socialism? I don’t know from these two paragraphs or the rest of the Sand County Almanac. I don’t think he knew either, so he conveniently in true metaphysical fashion, simply avoided this discussion. The argument could be made from the two paragraphs in question that Leopold was against capitalism, but that would not be an honest conclusion, knowing that he never took such a stand at anytime; although I have seen socialists make that argument.

John Bellamy Foster made just such an argument in 2002 using these same two paragraphs we are discussing in the socialist publication, Monthly Review. The article was sympathetically reviewed by Jean-Guy Vaillancourt in another alternative publication thus: “Foster proposes environmentally sustainable development rather than pure capitalist economic growth. He calls for the creation of a global society that favours nature and community, equality and justice, and democracy and participation, and he rejects a type of society based on the accumulation of capital, the nurturing of individual greed and the defence of market economics. What we need is a new ecological culture and morality, what Aldo Leopold called a "land ethic," and what Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute calls an "environmental revolution." Changes in the social order, rather than high-tech gimmicks are the answer, because technology by itself is no solution. What is also required is a strong alliance of environmentalists with workers, women and oppressed ethnic and Third World groups, rather than just segmented struggles.” In fact, Foster argued that Leopold’s “land ethic” was more or less a blueprint for socialism. Obviously Leopold wanted, and sought, discussion of his “land ethic,” which it is receiving.

I think that it is too bad that Leopold did not give this controversy swirling around capitalism versus socialism some deeper thought because we are kind of robbed, in a way, of knowing how an important thinker and philosopher of the modern industrial age viewed this storm between the two competing social/economic systems of capitalism and socialism. Even the book, “Exploitation, Conservation, Preservation: A Geographic Perspective on Natural Resource Use” used in the Natural Resources and Conservation class at this college recognizes the two competing systems of capitalism and socialism; and acknowledges that each system views resources and the land quite differently. Certainly “the land ethic” needs to be a part of any thinking person’s attempt in trying to come to grips with these complex questions; and challenging people to think about the “land ethic,” as Leopold does in these two paragraphs can only help to move humanity in a more progressive direction; that is good for our living environment--- the land, water, air, plants, and animals--- all of which we humans are a part. We have one thing that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and that is our ability to think and reason. Leopold’s single greatest contribution to humanity and the environment in these two paragraphs is convincing us to use our ability to think. I think Leopold has been very successful in making us realize that we are part of an “enlarged community,” and he gets this aspect of his message across very well, too, in these two paragraphs.

The other part of Leopold’s message that comes across very well is that as a result of his myriad of questions, and much of his abstract thinking that we get in these two paragraphs we have been asked to comment on, are two questions--- embodied as one--- that have become so basic and elemental that they form the very foundation of how we perceive our resources before we ever cut down a tree, take ore from the earth, or begin drilling for oil in the ANWR, or engage in sulfide mining at Birch Lake in Minnesota or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula north of Marquette, or build costly coal fired, polluting power plants across the Iron Range, or mine the peat from our own Big Bog: Is this resource worth more to us left in its natural state, or is it worth more to society if it is extracted at the present time? For causing us to ask this question, humanity and Mother Nature--- the Land--- owe a huge debt of gratitude to Aldo Leopold, and if the dust that his body has been transformed into has possibly blown with the wind like the mercury emitted from power plants scattered throughout the Midwest and settled in the peat of the Big Bog here in northern Minnesota … we may still have the opportunity to thank Aldo Leopold in some small way, by standing up to the powers that be using modern scientific materialism to assist us in forcing government bureaucrats and the corporate executives of a Canadian multi-national capitalist corporation to halt their planned destruction of the Big Bog while allowing Leopold’s dust to rest in peace as our freshwater continues to run pure, filtered by the bog.

Let us reflect here for a moment on United States Steels' Minntac operation in Mt. Iron, Minnesota on the Iron Range. Minntac is contaminating the streams, rivers, lakes, just about every freshwater aquifer, and the land in a large portion of Northern Minnesota as company "environmental engineers" acknowledge the contamination has reached as far north into Canada as the Hudsons' Bay... which only proves that every body of water is connected to another in some way; and which further proves that these huge multi-national conglomerates like United States Steel don't give a damn about anything other than profits. One has to wonder, with all that Leopold has written, how it is that United States Steel would intentionally build a dike as ordered by government agencies for the express purpose of impounding its contaminated water in such a way that it would leak knowing that it would destroy the Dark River, a pristine designated trout stream; hard to believe, but true... and government agencies like the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency headed up by Commissioner Brad Moore who actually had the unmitigated gall to stand before members of Trout Unlimited at the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo and quote Aldo Leopold... as he has sat in indiffernce to United States Steel destroying the Dark River and its watershed. This I think proves how Leopold has left a huge gap, like the holes that United States Steel has punched in its "Clear Water Reservoir" that was built at tax-payer expense, for the corporations to pass through just as easily as the contaminated water leeches from "Clear Water Reservoir." Even the name, I kid you not--- "Clear Water Reservoir"--- has been named with Leopold in mind. Would Commisioner Moore drink the water from "Clear Water Reservoir?" Definitely not... he had a bottle of water that he drank from on his podium as he quoted Aldo Leopold in his opening address to Trout Unlimited members... it was not Buhle water.

Ironically, the Minnesota Commissioner of Natural Resources was so arrogant as to issue a permit to mine peat in the Big Bog that he did not see fit to answer this fundamental question that is Leopold’s legacy to “the Land:” Is the Big Bog worth more in its natural pristine state that includes being Minnesota's largest freshwater aquifer than mined for peat to be used for horticultural purposes? This question is ultimately what these two paragraphs on page 384, taken from Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, are all about; it is a message that will continue on as long as human beings have to make decisions based on conservation, preservation, use, and exploitation of our natural resources; “the land ethic” is the message. I believe Leopold was successful in getting his message across to most of humanity, except for the corporate capitalist community.

I think Leopold could have, and should have attempted to build the bridge between socialists, peace activists, labor, and the environmental community in these two paragraphs; he could have even made a powerful case for universal healthcare as many health problems were already being attributed to pollution and contamination of our air, water, and land. Instead, he sincerely felt that he could “educate” the business community and tried to avoid alienating them in his choice of words; I think his assessment was wrong because business only is concerned with the bottom line of short-term profits. It has been 55 years since Sand County Almanac was published and most business people in forestry, mining, and the power industries are very familiar with Leopold, yet they act against “the land ethic.” It might have been better for us today had Leopold taken a more anti-capitalist approach, because now where we are faced with a Congress that has put the oil drilling in ANWR into a defense appropriation bill, we have seen environmental organizations like the Sierra Club--- which have been heavily influenced by Leopold’s thought and methods--- condemning that this was put in with defense appropriations, when they should be demanding no drilling in ANWR and saying no to funding the war in Iraq. Today, we should continue to appreciate Leopold’s contributions to environmental awareness, but we should abandon his “hope” that education alone will encourage business to act in line with his “land ethic;” because in the real world this is not going to happen until a massive movement along the lines of the old Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party steps into this equation and at least orders business to behave differently; education plus legislation with sharp teeth that includes creating publicly owned industries in the areas of forestry, mining, and power generation will be needed; public ownership through nationalization of much of the existing forestry and mining industries will probably be necessary in order to solve many of the problems in a way that benefits people, our communities, and our living environment.

One thing for certain, the debates around these questions must be reframed in order that working people are allowed into the decision making process. It is time to take the decision making process out from the darkness of the corporate board-rooms where CEO’s and their anointed and handsomely paid politicians scheme hand-in-hand to deceive the people as to the benefits of these projects, which are often nothing more than boondoggles designed to enrich the few; and bring these projects into the sunlight for all to see and understand. One thing for certain, progressive-minded people are going to have to start working together if we are going to get to the point of actually having input into the decision making process and we are going to have to start discussing these issues together.

All too often the supporters and defenders of these projects demagogically use “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” as the motivating factor behind these ventures, when profit is the real motivating factor. If jobs were the issue, almost all forestry operations of the pulp and paper mills would be carried out using horses and chain saws, thereby eliminating unemployment while maintaining the same output by the mills; of course, rather than being a profit generating industry, this would truly be a job creating industry… so we know jobs are not the motivating factor when businessmen, politicians, and editors proclaim, “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” The same can be said for mining operations; why replace human labor with machines when more workers can do the same amount of work? Workers certainly have not benefited by most of the new mining technologies because their numbers have dwindled as corporate profits have soared.

United States Congressman James Oberstar has not saved one single job in existing industries during his more than thirty years in public office; yet he always talks about “jobs, jobs, jobs” every time he steps forward to do the bidding for the power generating, mining, and forestry industries. These bosses know that all they have to do is parade Jim Oberstar before the newspaper editors and TV cameras talking, “jobs, jobs, jobs” every time they want to pitch one of their ventures to the public. And so goes the circus performance; the act is getting old.

Something for environmentalists to consider: Another aspect of the “land ethic” that often goes without much discussion is the quality of air and water in places of employment. Perhaps this aspect is often overlooked because those doing the “thinking” often have no connection to working people. If one has to work a 12 hour shift in a smoke filled casino where the ventilation system has been shut down by management in an attempt to save on the heating bills during the winter, as is done in the three casinos owned by Red Lake Gaming Enterprises; or if one has to work around the crusher in a taconite plant where the dust gets into your lungs and enters your body through the skin, not to mention what happens to one’s hearing; or if you have to work 10 to 12 hours a day inhaling the air in a sugar refinery; or if you have to work everyday at 3M, a company that disposes of their dangerous chemical wastes without any concern for public health and safety (think about the workers inside these plants that handle these chemicals daily for their entire working lives); how many people have ever been inside a plant that processes peat for horticultural purposes where the dust is so thick and heavy you can barely see your hand if you hold it up in front of your eyes--- the issue of “environment” means one thing to these workers, while professors who write about environmentalism” and the executive directors of environmental organizations might be inclined to “overlook” these kinds of environmental factors and concerns. What might be in the workplace air that workers will consume while eating meals, or snacks on breaks, while at work if dangerous pollutants are entering the “outside” environment? What about workplace environments at the “big box” outfits like Wal-mart that routinely expose workers to all kinds of dangerous and carcinogenic materials in the air they breathe because they have “closed door” policies where when repairs are being made to refrigeration systems employees have to inhale the fumes of burning rubber and insulating materials because to open the doors causes added heating or cooling expenses? What about workers employed in paper mills, what are the environmental hazards in the workplace they are subjected to? We have to remember, that when we talk about industrial pollutants there are workers inside these plants being subjected to the very same pollutants at much higher and more dangerous levels. The workplace environment was never addressed by Aldo Leopold; apparently, this gets us too close to “class,” for comfort.

Often we want to talk in generalities and avoid specifics, especially when it comes to taking action to solve problems. It seems that we can agree on “policies” like those in the Lakoff quote used as an introduction to this essay, but when we get down to specifics disagreements arise. As uncomfortable as it may be to address the specifics, this needs to become part of environmentalism.”

Do you ever pick up a newsletter from any one of the many environmental organizations and read something like this that I recently got from Trout Unlimited in one of their fundraising newsletters: “We must… clean up thousands of streams polluted by toxic residue from abandoned mines… and much more.” Why must “we” clean up what “they” pollute? Why no action to halt the contamination in the first place? Because “jobs” will be in jeopardy? Or, because profits will be lost? Again we have come full circle in asking the question: Is a resource worth more left in the ground than extracted? Certainly if the cost of clean-ups is going to be more than the value to society this must be considered before, not after, extraction of a resource takes place. All too often corporations run off with the profits, while the costs of clean-ups far surpass what was paid out in wages or collected in taxes.

One only has to visit "Mine View" which overlooks poverty stricken Virginia, Minnesota and peer down into the massive pit to understand that the mining companies have run off with tremendous wealth leaving nothing but holes in the ground behind. From "Mine View" I can go to another hilltop in the small community of Gilbert only a few miles away to my grandfather's grave--- he died at fifty-four from the cancer that ate away at his body which he was left with at the time he was blacklisted from the mines for his union organizing activity... and as I step from his grave site I step on the graves of others who were also exploited by the mining companies in the process of raping Mother Nature... the "Red" Finns in these graves were environmentalists, like Leopold, but they had a much different outlook which openly challenged the capitalist system and worked to replace the capitalist system with socialism; these "Red" Finns understood the nature of the capitalist beast very well; Leopold did not.

I am willing to take people--- individuals, families, large or small groups--- on tours of the peat mining site in the Big Bog and United States Steel's Minntac operation which is contaminating the streams, rivers, lakes, aquifers, and land of northern Minnesota which has placed the Dark River, a designated trout stream at risk. These tours are good opportunities for cross-country skiing or hiking offering some fantastic photo opportunities... Mother Nature cannot speak well for herself, she relies upon each of us to be her lobbyist... if we don't take an interest, big-business does... and big-business has some very powerful lobbyists. A good starting point for such a tour is historic Mesaba Co-op Park on to the Wellstone Memorial, a visit to the Gilbert and Biwabik cemetaries on the Iron Range and then on to "Mine View;" from there we go to Mt. Iron and Minntac's "Clear Water Reservoir;" and from the Minntac operation we drive through Buhle where water is bottled on our way to the Dark River as we proceed into the Big Bog. The trip can be done in a day, or we can make it a weekend outing with lodging at Mesaba Park. We can reflect on what we have seen around a campfire as we discuss Aldo Leopold and Karl Marx.

The United States Steel's Minntac's plant manager has assured me that he will accomodate group tours of the facilities including taking in the "Clear Water Reservoir."

For those unable to make this trip, I have photos and slides, as well as a power point presentation available. I will be happy to speak to any group gathered around the kitchen table or in a union hall.

I request that you please forward this e-mail to family, friends, and fellow workers along with anyone concerned about our living environment--- plants, animals, air, water, land.

Please print, copy, distribute, and post widely.