A pioneer in the field of river studies, Leopold had a profound influence on efforts to restore and protect America's waterways, both large and small. The son of famed ecologist Aldo Leopold, he served for 22 years as chief hydrologist of the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Resources Division, where he made major contributions to our scientific understanding of riparian systems.
Among his assignments during that period was an assessment of plans to build the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Leopold's study predicted disaster if oil companies laid pipe on frozen ground and across rivers. His vehement complaints compelled the piepline consortium to initiate safeguards. He also consulted on plans for a South Florida jetport that threatened a portion of the Everglades.
"In 1969, he practically invented the Environmental Impact Statement through its design and early applications to problems such as the proposed Trans-Alaska Pipeline and Everglades Jetport," wrote one of his colleagues, Thomas Dunne, a professor of environmental science and management at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
Leopold launched a second career in 1972 as a hydrology professor at the University of California-Berkeley. Throughout his life, he published nearly 200 scholarly papers and numerous books. He retired from the university in 1986 but persisted in his research and writing. "His work played a a major role in the way our nation approaches environmental issues today," observed the NWF board during Leopold's installment into the hall of fame.
Back to Past Inductees