Au Sable River

Taylor Wizner

 

Tubing down a river on a hot summer day is one of Michigan’s most popular pastimes. But after years of alcohol-fueled floats, the National Forest Service banned alcohol on the Au Sable, Manistee and Pine rivers.

 

The Forest Service has since backed off that ban due to public outcry. In its place, conservation officers have pledged to educate river users and ramp up law enforcement.

 

Now the question is, will it work?

 

Relaxing on the river

Wikimedia Commons

Update: The U.S. Forest Service says the ban may still go into effect next summer, but it is one of several options they are pursuing.

 

 

The National Forest Service has postponed an alcohol ban on some Michigan rivers after public backlash. The ban would affect the Manistee, Au Sable and Pine Rivers.

As of Tuesday evening more than 40-thousand people had signed an online petition asking the Forest Service to stop the ban.

Among those opposed to the law is Cheryl Matson, who owns a campground and a boat rental business off the Manistee River. She says most of her customers like to drink on the water.

 

 

The National Forest Service has postponed an alcohol ban on some Michigan rivers after public backlash. The ban would affect the Manistee, Au Sable and Pine Rivers.

As of Tuesday evening more than 40-thousand people had signed an online petition asking the Forest Service to stop the ban.

Among those opposed to the law is Cheryl Matson, who owns a campground and a boat rental business off the Manistee River. She says most of her customers like to drink on the water.

Harrietta Hills Trout Farm

Part of a lawsuit is going forward against a company running a fish farm on the Au Sable River.

Opponents of the fish farm allege it’s polluting the trout stream. The company called Harrietta Hills Trout Farm denies it. Now a judge says the operation violates the law, but for a reason that has nothing to do with pollution.

An administrative law judge has sided with a company called Harrietta Hills Trout Farm that's operating in Grayling. It produced nearly 69,000 pounds of rainbow trout last year.

The state granted a permit to the company in 2014. But some groups challenged that permit, and it ended up in court.

Last week, the judge issued a proposal for decision that the business should keep the permit that’s allowing it to expand.

Opponents of the fish farm are vowing to keep fighting the permit.

Harrietta Hills Trout Farm

Updated February 3, 2017:

An administrative law judge has proposed that a Grayling fish farm keep the permit that is allowing it to expand along the Au Sable River.

Harrietta Hills Trout Farm would be able to produce up to 300,000 pounds of rainbow trout per year at the Grayling Fish Hatchery. 

The fish farm was granted its permit to expand production in 2014, but the permit was appealed by Anglers of the Au Sable and the Sierra Club. 

The debate over fish farming in Michigan has arrived in Lansing.

Hearings are taking place at the state Capitol as environmental groups argue against a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality. That permit allows the operation of a fish hatchery operated by the Harrietta Hills Trout Farm in Grayling to raise rainbow trout on a branch of the Au Sable River, which is located in the northern lower peninsula, about 50 miles east of Traverse City.

Morgan Springer

The Au Sable Canoe Marathon is both grueling and addictive.  Canoe teams paddle 120 miles from Grayling to Oscoda on Lake Huron. That's close to halfway across Northern Michigan. They paddle 14 to 19 hours through the night and into the next day. The goal for many is simply to finish, and they attack that goal with a stubbornness that sometimes borders on dangerous. 

The marathon is this weekend beginning at 9pm on July 25th.


If you’re a fly fisherman, there are few rivers this side of the Rocky Mountains that compare with Michigan’s Au Sable River. There’s a particular nine-mile stretch east of Grayling known as the Holy Waters.

The water is clean, cold, easy to wade through, and packed with more than 100 pounds of wild trout per acre.

Anglers of the Au Sable

A controversial method of drilling for oil and gas could be coming to the Au Sable River, and to the most revered part of the watershed for anglers.

Leases to drill for oil and gas minerals under state land east of Grayling were sold to Encana at an October auction. The land in question is along the stretch of river called the Holy Waters and known for its trout fishing. The energy company has fracked deep shale wells in Kalkaska County and other parts of northern Michigan.

Part one of the two-part "Secret Persuasion" investigation, reported with the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bruce Pregler walks down the slope from his cabin, eases into the Au Sable River and casts his line; fishing takes his thoughts away from his downstate law practice.