Thursday, January 5, 2012

A 'Hike' into the Past - Gildersleeve Mountain, Halle Ravine, Gully Brook et al.

Gully Brook, located in Willoughby is the Lake Metroparks newest property.  Targeted since 1990 as part of an openspace master plan, Gully Brook opened in 2011.  Gully Brook, its tributaries, hemlock ravines, carpeted wildflower landscapes were well known as early as 1916.

Local residents of Lake County were familiar with the scenic and oft spectacular natural areas.  Essays published by naturalist John Burroughs influenced a group of local area men to meet and form a Burroughs Nature Club.  This club founded circa 1916 featured speakers and club explorations to places throughout Lake County.  Hiking, identifying wildflowers, studying nesting hawks and owls became club interests.  These early naturalists and conservationists worked to preserve these haunts.  These places included Gildersleeve Mountain (Chapin Forest Reservation), Halle Ravine (Penitentiary Glen Reservation), Mentor Headlands and Marsh as well as Gully Brook.  In fact it was as early as 1925 that the call for a 'natural woods preserve' at Gully Brook appeared in a Willoughby newspaper.  Construction of I-90 during the 1950's carved out portions of the Gully Brook valley.  Streams were diverted and foliage forever changed.  An effort in 1990 by the Willoughby Natural Areas Conservancy targeted Gully Brook as worthy of protective status.  Federal grants and local funding followed and Lake Metroparks newest park and watershed are now protected for future generations.

Resolutions abound each New Year.  A resolution that can easily be kept is this.  Take a hike at each of the above mentioned parks and reconnect, or rediscover the natural history that a group of local gentlemen from 1916 helped to preserve for our generation and future ones.

Please Note:  Beginning Thursday, January 12, 2012 and continuing every Thursday thereafter  'Local Lore by Max' will feature a Bicentennial Moment about Fairport Harbor as the village shares its rich history dating back to 1812.  Monday blogs will continue to explore the history and hidden gems of Lake County as usual.

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