Monday, January 31, 2011

Marguerite's New Book

Marguerite Gahagan started, owned, published and wrote the North Woods Call from 1953 through the late 60's. She then sold the Call to Glen Sheppard who died this month. He published it for more than 40 years. There will be one last edition, a memorial of sorts. The only one not written under the direct eye of Marguerite or Glen.
Several years ago, Glen gave the Gahagan Nature Preserve permission to republish Marguerite's Pine Whisper columns from her time at the paper's helm. We haven't acrtually counted them but there are about 22 per year for about 15 years. Gahagan volunteers had begun to compose a book of her life and writings when we heard the bad news about Glen. We hope to bring back Marguerite's view of the natural world to you sometime this summer. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, we post a sample of her work each month at our website,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gahagan Under Snow

The trails through the preserve have a thick coating of snow now. Winter came late but with new snow over night and snow and cold weather the past couple weeks, it looks like you would expect in late January.
The sun is out today and the pines are covered with snow, dazzling in the bright light. This is the best time ot travel the Green Trail. You need snowshoes. The trail snakes through lowlands to the spring in the northeast coner of the preserve. Skis won't make it through because of the need to step over small, fallen trees. Int eh summer it is too wet to traverse easily. Give it a try! the trail was tracked in a few days ago making it the easiest time to find it. It changes frequently as we do not saw the downed trees in this area very often and never when the snow is not there.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Deep Cold

Winters have become milder in recent years. Below zero temperatures were common in Roscommon twenty years ago but seem more extraordinary in recent memory. Last night bucked our mordern trend. The cabin's skin felt a chilly -30 this morning. It has been a number of years since we have dropped so low. It is the kind of day where quiet prevails except the occasional laugh of a pileated; or the crack and groans of the trees as the cold tries to change thier shape. The sun is up now - guess that is the bright side!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marguerite and Glen Sheppard

Last week Glen Sheppard died. Glen was the publisher of the North Woods Call, the conservation newspaper that Marguerite founded in 1953. Glen continued her legacy of digging up the scoop about environmental matters in Michigan. It is a natural time to reflect on their contributions to our state.
During their time at the Call, they were the thorn that helped keep natural resource management in Michigan on nature's side. The Call never had millions of readers but it did get read by important people. The leaders of the Department of Natural Resources, political aides to our law makers and dedicated conservationists all read it. Other news organizations used it to find otherwise uncovered news. All of this had a way of keeping governors, bureaucrats, polluters and developers a little more under the control of Mother Nature.
Marguerite began the newspaper at Douglas Lake near Lewiston more than sixty years ago. She was a newspaper veteran from Detroit who dared to do something different. After a few years, she moved to Roscommon to be closer to her printer and the then Department of Conservation's northern lower headquarters. She wrote from her cabin nestled in the woods by Tank Creek. Today it is the Marguerite Gahagan Nature Preserve.
In 1969, Marguerite sold the Call to Glen Sheppard. Glen moved the operations to his home near Charlevoix but continued to hound those who would mismanage the state's natural resources. He understood history well. He knew that many are interested in using the world for their profit and that nature does not have a way to fight back without our help. Glen continued to publish the Call until his death. We are not sure of the Call's future. We can be sure that the paper, which really means Marguerite and Glen, has been the best of environmental impacts. Not many in this world can say that!