Make Aldo Leopold’s Bench for your Natural Playscape

As you make your bench, with kid-power of course, everyone can learn about Aldo Leopold (1887-1948)  who founded the field of Wildlife Ecology, was instrumental in establishing the first official “wilderness area” in the United States (the Gila National Forest), and helped to create The Wilderness Society.  Apparently everyone named Aldo is just generally awesome.

Leopold’s Sand Country Almanac is, along with Thoreau’s Walden, a classic in American ecological literature and records his family’s renovation of an old depleted farmstead, and the conversion of its chicken coop to a house (it remains the only chicken coop on the National Register of Historic Places) that they called ‘the Shack’.  You can see the simple bench he designed to the right of the door in the photo above.

Leopold benches are still often seen at summer camps and cabins in the United States and the EPA even offers plans on its website.  It can feel a bit small for adults, but works well for children, and  is easily constructed to add an element of ecological history to your space.  A perfect summer project for your natural playground.   Nice painted, too, or in groups.

Materials: One 2x6x33″, one 2x10x30″, one 2x8x10′, six 3/8″x 31/2″ carriage bolts with washer and nut, twelve 3/8″ x 31/2″ #12 or #14 flathead wood screws. Use Douglas Fir for your Leopold bench, if you can, and customize its size to suit you. The materials listed will make a 33″ bench, but you may choose to build out to 48″. (this is the EPA version; their diagram above is quite low-res, so see also more detailed plans with photos and a video at Organic Gardening.)

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