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History of Paradocs: The Memoir of Dr. Galligar

Paradocs is slightly more than one acre of land, roughly square in shape, and located at 1413 South College, Pittsburg, Kansas. In addition to its use as a home, it is also the site of a project in ecological development for the purpose of preserving samples of biotic associations containing as many as possible of the species of plants and animals native to the area within a radius of approximately one hundred miles. The principle associations for convenience in reference are prairie, forest, mowed openings, pond, and horticultural area.

The one named last, being artificial, is restricted to the grounds around the house called Lyrrose (lear’rose), around the cabin called 'SWay Back, and south of Lyrrose Trail. Within these five associations a variety of small special habitats are maintained; examples are cairns, mounds, stone walls, dead trees, brush piles, etc., all of which play a share in attracting a greater variety of native wildlife than would be possible without them.

Paths and trails are maintained for easy accessibility to all parts of the acre, as well as for emergency fire breaks. Each path and trail has an identifying name for both convenience and whimsy. Assorted natural units also have names for the same reason. The map tells them all.

Among the investigations under way at Paradocs are bird-banding the year around, monthly avian censuses, and plant taxonomy. It is expected that other research will be undertaken as opportunity permits. A few individual studies have been made by graduate students; others, no doubt, will follow. Incidental daily observations have been recorded since 1950.

The wise course of nature is allowed to proceed on Paradocs with a minimum of interference from the human custodians. For instance, dead limbs and dead trees remain to serve as perching, feeding or nesting places for squirrels, woodpeckers, flycatchers, owls, hawks and any other forms that may us them. The interference consists mainly of three types of operations: an important one is keeping paths, trails and openings clear by mowing, removing from them fallen bark, limbs and trees, and trimming their borders to prevent abundant growth of plants from closing them altogether; a second kind of interference is pruning and/or removing plants, already to numerous, from around less common ones to give these more light and space and, therefore, opportunity for better growth; the third is primarily important in the ecological development, namely, establishing additional plants by seeding and transplanting, and creating additional types of habitats while maintaining and improving existing ones in the hope of attracting an even greater variety of biota.

In closing we say this:

There are unearned dividends of common and uncommon interests and beauty to be enjoyed at Paradocs by all who are acquainted with even a few of nature’s ways. Full appreciation requires an understanding of and a sensitivity and receptivity to the ceaseless changes occurring hour by hour, week by week, month by month and year by year. Gentle rain, voices of frogs, hooting of the Barred Owl, scolding fox squirrels, dawn and dusk, blinding snow, bitter cold, enchanting moonlight, warm sun, serene blue, violent wind, the birth of spring, summer’s green seclusion, autumn’s exciting color, winter’s dormancy, and the endless absorbingly interesting succession of life and death are a part of the infinite variety of dynamic drama at Paradocs.

- The human custodians

Transcribed (with minor changes) from a 1956 hand-written document by Dr. Gladys C. Galligar
(thanks to Sperry-Galligar Audubon Society)