Sunday, February 28, 2010

Salt and Pepper

The snow fleas appeared at Gahagan today - a sure sign of a warm winter day. In some places they were quite thick. Snow fleas are a type of springtail. They have two spring-like projections on their abdomen that catapults them randomly around like jumping.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Summer Program Schedule

Gahagan Preserve's program schedule is now updated to include the summer and early fall. View it at

From Michigan's karst formations to Alaska 's fisheries; programs for gardeners and about our rivers and groundwater - Elaine has built something for everybody. Come enjoy!

And Tom is hosting summer camp again for the children.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Outdoor Classroom

Each Spring and Fall, area schools bring classes to Gahagan for Tom Dale's environmental education programs. It won't be long. Spring classes will begin in about two months.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Clean-up Day

This year's spring clean-up at Gahagan will be April 24 - two months from today! Mark your calendar and please help us spruce up the cabin, clear the trails and get the Preserve ready for the Spring environmental ed classes. As the date gets closer check for details.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Okay - the last few days felt like spring

After three beautiful sunny spring-like days, who didn't
imagine the preserve's flowers in bloom! The Spring equinox is only a month away and remember April 24 - our annual spring clean-up at Gahagan. Details will be posted on as we get close to that event.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Protected Environment

Part of the mission left as Marguerite’s legacy is to provide a preserve for the plants and animals on her land. We encourage its use but ask that visitors abide by a few guidelines to reduce their impact. A few signs (but not many) highlight the rules.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

From Her Cabin.

Marguerite viewed her preserve from these cabin windows. As she looked out on a February day, what was she thinking? She told us through her newspaper. Visit and click on "Pine Whispers." Here we re-publish columns from her North Woods Call.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Come Visit!

Recent snows have left the boardwalk a fluffy white.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wintery Scene Today

Last night's snowfall has filled the firs with white. Come visit!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Join Us!

Do you enjoy nature?
Do you think it is important to provide field experience education to local school children?
Do you appreciate special programs on nature, the environment and the creatures that live in it?
Is the AuSable River's health important to you?

Please join us. It doesn't happen without you!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ski - Snowshoe - Perfect!

On Thursday over 20 people gathered around the fire in Marguerite's cabin, had a little dinner and then traversed a 1 km candle lit trail through the preserve. Wished you were there. Thanks to Elaine for all her hard work puttin it together.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The nuthatches seem peculiar. Name another being that always faces down!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gazebo Feeder

The chickadees set up their flight patterns into and out of the feeding station near the Gahagan Gazebo. If you need a map of the preserve to locate the trails and points of interest go to

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Downey Woodpecker

Near the Gahagan Gazebo are a number of dead, standing trees. A downey woodpecker has been working on the tall paper birch nearby.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Around the Gazebo

The area around the Gahagan Gazebo is always active with animals. Tiny Tank Creek flows by providing open water year-round. There is plenty of cover in the wetlands. Right now, the chickadees and nuthatches frequent the feeder near the gazebo. Plenty of large, dead trees stand nearby and the woodpeckers have been working hard find their food. Rabbit, squirrel and deer and the tracks of small rodents criss-cross the area near the pathways. The minimal snow pack is solid right now and walking is easy.

For the next couple days the Blog will feature activity near the gazebo. So if you can’t make it personally – and you should - enjoy!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Winter into Spring

Early this week much was made of the ground hog seeing its shadow then predicting the end of winter. Forget shadows. Use the sunshine to predict the coming of spring. Yesterday the sun light struck upon Marguerite’s pond. Not so many days ago, it did not rise high enough. Today the winter season is half way over; about mid way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The length of the day will lengthen quickly now and you can witness the change looking over Marguerite’s pond.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ski & Snowshoe RSVP

Remember to email to let us know if you are attending the Gahagan membership's night ski and snowshoe event next Thursday.

The details: February 11, 6-9 PM, at the cabin. we will have pizza and ask for a $5 donation to cover the food. The trails will be lit with candles but bring a headlamp if you have one. we'll have some extras. Oh .. and bring your skis, snowshoes or both.

We will have a fire going in Marguerite's house if you just desire a cozy cabin with friends.

Friday, February 5, 2010

AuSable Lab Work Finished

The Upper AuSable Watershed Water Quality Monitoring Group finished the remaining lab work last night. This completes the effort for 2009 except producing the final report. Ten volunteers identified the remaining macro invertebrates (generic term = aquatic bugs). We can happily report that the AuSable River and its upper branches have excellent water quality scores based on the quantity and type of invertebrates found. Certain aquatic insect species need clear, high quality water in order to survive. Others do not. By obtaining stream samples of bugs, we can determine whether water quality is an issue.
Consider joining us on the sampling days. We do it twice a year; the first Saturday in June and the first Saturday after Labor Day. We provide the equipment. You may wish to bring your own waders. We will train you. And you will have a great morning outdoors, in a beautiful stream setting, helping the environment and learning things about the river that you never imagined.
Contact information is found on the project’s website:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Four Ambitious Winter Nature To Do's Around Roscommon

1. Ski the Mason Tract Pathway.

2. Canoe the AuSable River.

3. Fish for perch on frozen Higgins Lake.

4. Snowshoe along Robinson Creek south of Roscommon village limits.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More on Deer Browsing

To the right is a photo taken yesterday at Gahagan Preserve. It shows the tearing-type nibble from a recent deer browse. Yesterday's blog discusses deer browsing in more detail.

Remember the AuSable Watershed Monitoring Group meets at KCC Geology Lab tomorrow night at 5 PM. See for more.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Deer Browse

Michigan's white tail deer need as much as 7000 kcal per day to keep going during cold weather. In the winter, the deer rely on browsing young trees and shrubs. They prefer white cedar, white pine, maples, yellow birch, dogwood and sumac. If these are in short supply other species will do. Deer do not have upper incisors. They tend to tear the twigs when eating. This is a good way to tell whether it has been deer chopping on the tree. Rabbits also use the twigs for winter food but their teeth cleanly slice the material.
Two years ago, Gahagan Preserve erected two deer exclosures (see picture). These are small, fenced in areas that keep the deer from browsing within them. This allows the small trees and brush to mature without being nibbled. As time goes on, you will be able to witness the difference deer can make to the forest. Take a walk this winter where short, young trees are growing and look for the shredded ends of the small twigs. Look anywhere from ground to 5 feet high. Then consider that a deer will eat 7 to 14 lbs a day to keep their bodies going!

Monday, February 1, 2010

February Pine Whispers

Available today and through the rest of February is the next installment of Marguerite Gahagan's Pine Whispers. These are reprints of her North Woods Call columns from the 1960's. Join us as we remember what was happening outside the cabin in February fifty years ago.

To view our February selection go to and click on Pine Whispers in the top menu. We'll add a new one on March 1.