Sand County Foundation is the legacy of a friendship.
It was a friendship between two men, neighboring landowners, in a weed-strewn sandy area in south central Wisconsin. These friends talked about their ideas on life, held some common beliefs, and shared a love of the land. One of these men was a Madison business owner, Tom Coleman, the other Aldo Leopold.
It was on this played out piece of land that Aldo Leopold would write A Sand County Almanac and share his conviction about a land ethic with a larger audience than just his friend, Tom.
In September 1965, Reed Coleman, Tom's son and Aldo's godson, his friends Howard Mead, and Frank Terbilcox formed Sand County Foundation.
They were witnessing the encroachment by lot development along the Wisconsin River, so they went out and enlisted the neighboring landowners to create a living memorial by preserving the Aldo Leopold Shack property, where Leopold did his writing and research. They further convinced the other landowners to allow the Foundation to do research and restoration in order to conserve the land as an integral unit.
The original 120-acre Leopold sand farm’s surroundings now include cooperative management of more than 1,500 acres known as the Leopold Memorial Reserve.
The roots of Sand County Foundation are private action inspired by the Leopold Land Ethic, using responsible voluntary means to improve habitat.
Today, the role of Sand County Foundation has expanded from caretaker of the Leopold Memorial Reserve to advising the managers of hundreds of thousands of acres of land in several countries. The Foundation works with private landholders to improve the quality of their lands through science, ethics, and incentives.