Sisters conserve scenic Gladwin farm

January 3, 2014

From left: AmeriCorps member Erin Quetell, Director of Land Conservation Elan Lipschitz, James Shaw, Bonnie Shaw, Charles Wolohan, Darlene Wolohan, and Executive Director Doug Koop. The Shaws and Wolohans protected their 72 acre farm along the Cedar River in Gladwin.

From left: AmeriCorps member Erin Quetell, Director of Land Conservation Elan Lipschitz, James Shaw, Bonnie Shaw, Charles Wolohan, Darlene Wolohan, and Executive Director Doug Koop. The Shaws and Wolohans protected their 72 acre farm along the Cedar River in Gladwin.

Driving on M-61 just outside the City of Gladwin, you can’t help noticing the beautiful red Michigan barn owned by Darlene Wolohan and Bonnie Shaw.

This iconic 72-acre farm with a gently rolling field leading to a mature forest has been in the sisters’ family for nearly 100 years.

The property was purchased in 1919, Bonnie explained, “because Grandpa felt the family needed to be closer to school.” Otherwise, their father, the oldest child, would have had to board in town and wouldn’t have been able to help with the farm work.

To preserve the rich agricultural tradition of the land, the sisters signed a conservation easement with The Little Forks Conservancy of Midland to protect their family property. Now, the Bailey Farm will forever remain an oasis of farmland and forest along 225 feet of the Cedar River.

Bonnie said, “I thought about dad, grandpa and the aunts – the ones who cared deeply for the land. That, to me, was how they would want it.”

Elan Lipschitz, the Conservancy’s director of land conservation, explained, “Our conservation easement projects are a partnership with the landowners. They own and manage the land, but choose to limit activities that could damage its natural resources.” The Conservancy then visits the property once a year to meet with the landowner and ensure the terms of the agreement are being met.

Darlene and Bonnie first started thinking about conserving their land after reading an article in the Detroit Free Press in 1998.

Bonnie said, “It was always in the back of my mind, even before we knew of the Conservancy.”

Placing a conservation easement on their land, Darlene said, “felt right and we had the support of our families.”

In fact, when the sisters told their children, Darlene added, “They said finally and great. They have a lot of happy memories here. We do, too.”

The property was protected through a grant from the State of Michigan to protect the water quality of the Cedar River watershed. The grant, awarded in 2009, was completed in the middle of October.

“With its proximity to the City of Gladwin,” Elan said, “the protection of Bailey Farm will provide a positive impact on the Gladwin community for many generations to come.”

The Conservancy’s Cedar River project has protected almost six and a half miles of our region’s waterways and over 950 acres of land. For more information about the Conservancy’s land conservation program, contact their office at 989-835-4886 or info@littleforks.org.

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