JAMES OLIVER CURWOOD, famed Owosso author, is well represented at the Shiawassee Conservation Association’s clubhouse on M-52 in Owosso. Not only did Curwood donate both land and funds to the creation of the SCA, with the clubhouse completed in 1926, he also remained passionate about conservation until his death in August of 1927. He died in his Williams Street home at just 49 years old, after complications related to a possible spider bite.

   Curwood’s last book was “Green Timber,” which he did not quite finish before his passing. A guest author finalized the novel for him and it was published in 1930.

   A complete set of first-edition Curwood books now adorns the fireplace mantel in the SCA clubhouse, just beneath his portrait. Plans for a protective case are underway.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor


   “To see a bird singing on a twig means but little; but to live a season with that bird, to be with it in courting days, in matehood and motherhood, to understand its griefs, as well as its gladness, means a great deal. And in my books, it is my desire to tell of the lives of the wild things which I know as they are actually lived. It is not my desire to humanize them. If we are to love wild animals so much that we do not want to kill them, we must know them as they actually live.” – James Oliver Curwood

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), currently the largest statewide conservation organization in the country, celebrated its 80th anniversary over Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 by returning to its origins in Owosso. The organization’s first meeting was held at the Shiawassee Conservation Association (SCA) in November 1937. Members came last weekend from as far away as Detroit, Grand Rapids, Marquette, and Elkhart, IN, for the special event.

SCA Club Manager Brandee Stopjik organized an informal picnic on Friday evening, and a Prime Rib Dinner and Awards Ceremony for Saturday. Trapshooting, archery, horseshoes, and euchre were enjoyed by the MUCC delegates, affiliates, and SCA members.

“We’re really honored,” shared Stopjik on Friday, referencing the large attendance at the club facilities on N. M-52.

This year also marks a special anniversary for the SCA. Organized in 1907, the SCA is the oldest conservation group in the nation. The M-52 clubhouse, the first permanent home for the SCA, was built in 1926 as a monument to famed Owosso author and conservationist, James Oliver Curwood. Curwood had donated both land and funds toward the building of the clubhouse as a continuation of his passion for conservation. He is often referred to as Michigan’s greatest conservationist: a theme he repeatedly wrote about in many of his books.

Numerous items echo Curwood’s influential life at the SCA, from the memorial stone erected on the grounds, to the portraits above the clubhouse mantel.

Newly displayed on the fireplace mantel is a complete run of first edition James Oliver Curwood books. These invaluable books include such work as “Kazan,” “Baree, Son of Kazan,” and “The Rivers End.” Mark Erickson, a retired educator from Owosso Public Schools, and his wife, have spent considerable effort conscientiously overseeing the project of the book display. A protective glass case is being planned.

MUCC Executive Director Dan Eichinger, shared his enthusiasm for the growing statewide organization and also ongoing conservation efforts. “Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage needs the MUCC,” he stated.

One item of discussion on the Saturday MUCC agenda was related to a possible Sandhill Crane hunting season. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has recently recognized 805 breeding pair statewide. At one point, the bird’s numbers had been greatly reduced by habitat loss and shooting, but have grown in recent decades. It has been recorded that the birds are intolerant of human disturbance.

More information on the MUCC is available at www.mucc.org. The Shiawassee Conservation Association may be reached at (989)725-7588. The SCA website is www.shiawasseeconservationassociation.org.

Shiawassee Conservation Association Hosts Historic MUCC was last modified: June 26th, 2017 by Karen Elford