Literary arts

Talk targets beavers and ecosystems

Annual Leopold Residency Lecture planned by environmental writer Ben Goldfarb


Environmental writer Ben Goldfarb will spend his October residency at the Aldo & Estella Leopold Cabin putting the final touches on a manuscript about the importance of beavers in restoring ecosystems.

Goldfarb holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies – the same school that Aldo Leopold attended and was among its first graduates. And the Leopold Cabin sits across the valley from the historic seat of the beaver pelt trade in the early 1800s at Taos Pueblo.

“I can’t think of a better venue at which to complete my present project, ‘Song of the Dammed,’ a book about the ecological and hydrological benefits of North American beaver restoration,” said Goldfarb, who spent last summer surveying ranchers, scientists and public land managers about beaver restoration. “Northern New Mexico plays in integral part of the story I want to tell. And I’m happy to be invited to U.S. Forest Service property, as that is an agency that gets the importance of beavers the most.”

Goldfarb will present elements of his book, including a history of beavers in North America, the ways beavers influence restoration, and several case studies that support his findings at a presentation planned Wednesday (Oct. 4), 7 p.m., at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux Street in Taos. The presentation is free and open to the public.

The Aldo and Estella Leopold Residency began in 2012 as “an inspiring retreat for writers to reflect and create in the home where Aldo and Estella Leopold first lived as newlyweds from 1911-12,” a press release states. “Now in its 6th year, the Leopold Writing Program selects one to two writers for one-month-long residencies, depending upon funding. Participants receive a $500 stipend to help defray travel and living expenses. In exchange, residents give a public presentation of their work in Taos.”

Past residents include Courtney White, John Hausdoerffer, Bonnie Harper-Lore, Leanna Torres, Gavin Van Horn, Tovar Cerulli, Priscilla Solis Ybarra, Andrew Gulliford, Maya Kapoor, Andrea Clearfield, and Ariana Kramer.

The Residency is a New Mexico based initiative, focused on the heritage of Aldo and Estella Luna Otero Bergere. It is sponsored by the Leopold Writing Program in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service, which owns the cabin.

The mission of the Leopold Writing Program is to create an intergenerational network of leaders who, by virtue of their writing talent, have the potential to inspire the evolution of environmental ethics through the written word.

For more information about the Leopold Writing Program, visit