Monday, March 14, 2016

Burroughs Nature Club at 100

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of one of the oldest nature clubs in our nation. 
Local residents of Lake County were long familiar with the scenic and oft spectacular natural areas. Tributaries, hemlock ravines and carpeted wildflower landscapes were plentiful. Essays published by Hudson Valley naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921) influenced a group of local area men to meet and form a Burroughs Nature Club.  The Burroughs Nature Club of Willoughby was comprised of outstanding Cleveland area men (scientists, scholars, naturalists and photographers) who shared common passions such as hiking, wildlife and the natural world. 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.  By 1925 the Burroughs Club had made Lake County known around many conservancy circles on a grand scale.  In fact it was as early as 1925 that the call for a 'natural woods preserve' at Gully Brook appeared in a Willoughby newspaper. In 2001 after nearly a decade of intense effort this preserve became a reality and is part of the Lake Metroparks holdings.

The Burroughs Club remains active today and meets monthly September thru April in Willoughby.  An invitation is always extended to all who share in a desire to explore and help preserve the natural world.  An exhibit highlighting the clubs first hundred years may be found in the visitor center auditorium at Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland.

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