Richard Proenneke

Richard Proenneke: “Richard Proenneke 1917-2003
To live in a pristine land … to roam the wilderness … to choose a site, cut trees, and build a home … Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. Here is a tribute to a man in tune with his surroundings who carved his masterpiece out of the beyond.
In 1968 at the age of 51 Richard (Dick) Proenneke constructed a log cabin at Upper Twin Lakes and lived there alone for almost 30 years. In 1980, Twin Lakes became part of the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, and Dick became a volunteer backcountry interpreter and naturalist. A diesel mechanic by trade, decades of living in wilderness would transform Dick into what some might call a landscape ecologist.
A keen observer and meticulous recorder, Dick was fascinated by weather phenomena, annual phenological events, cyclic natural fluctuations in animal abundance, and plant-animal interactions. Inquisitive and deliberate, he not only observed and recorded but also asked the question, “Why?”.
A wolverine carcass found in spring at the head of a valley would be systematically probed for weeks. What was its sex and age? Was there evidence of emaciation or broken bones? Was the carcass in an avalanche zone? In A Sand County Almanac Aldo Leopold wrote: “Keeping records enhances the pleasure of the search, and the chance of finding order and meaning in these events.” At Twin Lakes, Dick found order and meaning by recording natural events. He began recording his observations and measurements in 1968 and continued to do so until 1995, the last full year he spent at Twin Lakes.
He wrote most of his notes on wall calendars, the type that rural Iowa hardware stores give to loyal customers at the start of the new year. Entries included dates of lake freeze-up; lake ice break-up; den entry and den emergence by brown bears; first calving by moose; first lambing by Dall sheep; and nest initiation by Gray Jay”

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One Response

  1. Richard Proenneke is one of Seven Children.
    The Seven Children are:
    Robert, Helen, Lorence, Richard, Florence, Paul, Raymond.
    As of June 2008, only Raymond Proenneke is still alive.

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