The river with its mask of trees cut a twisting path down through the valley. Two miles away he could see, beside a gigantic lonely oak, the white speck of his tent pitched and left while he went to record his homestead. A long time he sat there. AS he looked into the valley, Joseph felt his body flushing with a hot flluid of love. “This is mine,” he said simply, and his eyes sparkled with tears and his brain was filled with wonder that this should be his. There was pity in him for the grass and the flowers; he felt that the trees were his children and the land his child. For a moment he seemed to float high in the air and to look down upon it. “It’s mine,” he said again, ” and I must take care of it.”

– John Steinbeck from “To a God Unknown”


What is such a resource worth? Anything it costs. If we never hike it or step into its shade, if we only drive by occasionally and see the textures of green mountainside change under wind and sun, or the fog move soft feathers down the gulches, or the last sunset on the continent redden the sky beyond the ridge, we have our money’s worth. We have been too efficient at destruction; we have left our souls too little space to breathe in. Every green natural place we save saves a fragment of our sanity and gives us a little more hope that we have a future.

– Wallace Stegner 1991


Thanks to the growing strength of environmental organizations, there will always be some back country to provide us with a touch of wonder and a breath of fresh air.

– Wallace Stegner 1991


What greater grief than the loss of one’s native land.

– Euripides


We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

– Aldo Leopold


There is yet no ethic dealing with man’s relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus’ slave-girls, is still property. The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.

– Ibid.


Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.

– Ibid.


Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plans, and animals.

– Ibid.


A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.

– Ibid.


Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism.


– Ibid.


It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land, and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense.

– Ibid.


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.

– Ibid.


New earths, new themes expect us.

– Henry David Thoreau


What are the natural features which make a township handsome? A river, with its waterfalls and meadows, a lake, a hill, a cliff or individual frocks, a forest and ancient trees standing singly. Such things are beautiful; they have a high use which dollars and cents never represent. If the inhabitants of a town were wise, they would seek to preserve these things, though at a considerable expense for such things educate far more than any hired teachers or preachers, or any at present recognized system of school education. I do not think him fit to be the founder of a state or even of a town who does not foresee the use of these things, but legislates chiefly for oxen, as it were.

– Ibid.


The land belongs to the future.

– Willa Cather


Life in fragments no longer. Only connect.

– E.M. Forester


The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.

– Wendell Berry


Geography blended with time equals destiny.

– Joseph Brodsky


Each hamlet or village or town should be a place, its own place. This is not a matter of fake historicism or artsy-craftsy architecture. It is a matter of respect for things existing, subtle patterns of place woven from vistas and street widths and the siting and color and scale of stores, houses, and trees…. If the countryside is to prosper, it must be different from city or suburb…. The difference is in part the simple business of containing our towns and giving them boundaries.

– Robert Riley


You may have believed that the land itself is what matters, that men may come and go, and their names be unimportant – that one may sow and acre where another reaps, and the change be nothing, since it is the same acre, and the wheat or corn is wheat or corn, whoever the plowman or the reaper. Farmers, so far as history knows, are stripped of their personal idiosyncrasies; in all that makes them essential to the nation, they are alike. You may have believed this – but the activity in these [county clerks’] rooms proves that it is man’s relation to the land, whether he be its owner or its slave, that is important to him and to the society he has created here in the shadow of the courthouse.

– Helen Hooven Santmyer


God sleeps in minerals, awakens in plants, walks in animals, and thinks in man.

– Sanskrit apothegm


In America today you can murder land for private profit. You can leave the corpse for all to see, and nobody calls the cops.

– Paul Brooks


We are the children of our landscape. It dictates behavior and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it.

– Lawrence George Durrell


For a relationship with landscape to be lasting, it must be reciprocal. At the level at which the land supplies our food, this is not difficult to comprehend, and the mutuality is often recalled in a grace at meals. At the level at which landscape seems beautiful or frightening to us and leaves us affected, or at the level at which it furnishes us with the metaphors and symbols with which we pry into mystery, the nature of reciprocity is harder to define. In approaching the land with an attitude of obligation, willing to observe courtesies difficult to articulate – perhaps only a gesture of the hands – one establishes a regard from which dignity can emerge. From that dignified relationship with the land, it is possible to image an extension of dignified relationships throughout one’s life. Each relationship is formed of the same integrity, which initially makes the mind say: the things in the land fit together perfectly, even though they are always changing. I with the order of my life to be arranged in the same way I find the light, the slight movement of the wind, the voice of a bird, the heading of a seed pod I see before me. This impeccable and indisputable integrity I want in myself.

– Barry Lopez


The land gets inside of us; and we must decide one way or another what this means, what we will do about it.

– Ibid.


Every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.

– Theodore Roosevelt


” Man did not make the earth, and though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity, any part of it.

– Tom Paine 1796


“Our land is more valuable than your money. It will last forever. It will not even perish by the flames of fire. As long as the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and animals.”

– Chief of the Blackfeet.


“To call this a society of free peoples is blasphemous. What have we to offer the world beside the superabundant loot which we recklessly plunder from the earth under the maniacal delusion that this insane activity represents progress and enlightenment?”

– Henry Miller


“This land is your land . . . “

– Woody Guthrie


“Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything, for it’s the only thing in this world that lasts. It’s the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for…”

– Margaret Mitchell, Author, Gone With The Wind


“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt


“The earth belongs to the living. No man can, by natural right, oblige the lands he occupied or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the payment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might, during his own life, eat up the use of the lands for several generations to come, and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living. No generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.”

– Thomas Jefferson


“In less than 20 years at the current rate of loss, approximately half of California’s cropland will no longer be available for production.”

– Rapid Population Growth In California: A Threat To Food Production and the Environment, by David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel, Cornell University, Carrying Capacity Network, Issued October 30, 1997


“Heroes are people who say: This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.”

– former Oregon Governor Tom McCall.


“I am I plus my surroundings and if I do not preserve the latter, I do not preserve myself.”

– Jose Ortega Y Gasset (1883-1955)