Dr. Luna Leopold passes away
Early photo of Luna Leopold at the East Fork River site in western Wyoming.
Luna Leopold at an archeological site in the Jonah Gas Field near Pinedale, c. 2001. Leopold is in the middle wearing the plaid shirt and white Stetson, with the cane. Photo courtesy Pinedale BLM.
Distinguished Hydrologist had strong ties to Pinedale
by Dawn Ballou
February 24, 2006
Distinguished Hydrologist, Dr. Luna Leopold, age 90, passed away peacefully at home in Berkeley, California on Thursday night, February 23.
Dr. Leopold had a 23-year career in the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey, from 1950-1972, ending as Chief Hydrologist. He was a hydrologist and scientist who is credited with revolutionizing the understanding of streams and their landscapes. He started his career with a bachelorís degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, continued with a masterís degree in physics and meteorology from the University of California at Los Angeles, and concluded with a Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University.
Leopold was the son of Aldo Leopold, one of the early leaders of the movement to preserve the American wilderness. Luna Leopold combined his fatherís land ethic with a deep understanding of rivers and their relationship to people. He was both a scientist and a conservationist, and served on the Sierra Clubís Board of Directors and on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Law Institute.
After retiring from the U.S. Geological Survey in 1972, Leopold became a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. He later became professor emeritus at UC-Berkeley.
He published a number of books and some 200 scientific articles. His books include: The Flood Control Controversy (1954); Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology (1964); Water - A Primer (1973); Water in Environmental Planning (1978); A View of the River (1994); and Water, Rivers and Creeks (1997).
Leopold was the recipient of many awards. These honors include the Distinguished Service Medal, U.S. Department of the Interior; Warren Prize, National Academy of Sciences; Robert E. Horton Medal, American Geophysical Union; and the Penrose Medal, Geological Society of America. He was a Fellow in the Geological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, California Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Philosophical Society, and several other professional scientific societies, and was a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.
In 1991, he received the National Medal of Science. In 2000, he was awarded the most prestigious award given out by The American Geological Institute, the Ian Campbell Medal, during the Geological Society of America Presidential Awards Ceremony. A number of universities have awarded him an honorary degree.
Leopold had strong ties to Pinedale and the Bridger-Teton National Forest. He had over 40 years professional experience documenting water quality issues specifically related to Fremont Lake. He owned a home on the New Fork River and a summer home on Fremont Lake. He, and his wife Barbara, offered a scholarship at Teton Science Schools in Jackson, "The Barbara & Luna Leopold Award for Achievement in Field Science and Community Commitment."
According to Pinedale BLM Archaeologist, Dave Vlcek, Leopold took an active interest in the archaeology of the Upper Green River Basin. In 2005, Luna Leopold and Claudio Vita-Finzi, published and article ntitled, "Archaeological Trash: Geomorphology and early human occupation in Wyoming" in "Catena", an Interdisciplinary Journal of Soil Science - Hydrology - Geomorphology that focuses on Geoecology and Landscape Evolution. The article posited that artifacts made from lithic source material, predominantly consisting of river-polished quartzite cobbles located on ancient landforms such as the Pleistocene terraces of the Green River, might be much older than most archaeologists allow.
In the photo, Luna Leopold, scholars, environmentalist activists and Pinedale BLM officials examine one of the 6,000 year old archaeological sites in the Jonah Gas Field near Pinedale in approximately 2001. Leopold is in the middle wearing the white Stetson with the cane. Photo courtesy Pinedale Bureau of Land Management.
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