Pine 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

Bronte Cook / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, the U.S. Forest Service tried to ban alcohol on three popular northern Michigan rivers, but they backed off after public outcry. Now they say they will ramp up enforcement and education to curb drunken behavior.

Plus, how the Nordhouse Dunes in the Huron-Manistee National Forests is dealing with summer tourism.

 

 

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.

Party spot on Pine River will remain open

May 5, 2017
U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service will not close a popular party spot on the Pine River. It’s a 160-foot sandy bank, located between Cadillac and Manistee, that draws scores of paddlers each year. Forest officials instead will try to stabilize the bank by laying down branches on the edges of it. 

Officials worry the heavy summer traffic is causing erosion on the bank and sending sediment into the blue-ribbon trout stream. Sand can harm trout populations.

U.S. Forest Service

In the 1970s, people complained the Pine River had become a “canoe freeway.”

Mark Miltner owns Pine River Paddlesports Center and says people like the river because it’s fast.

“It’s just a little livelier than most Michigan rivers,” he says. “It has more personality, has more push, has more fun factor.”

U.S. Forest Service

The Pine River is one of the fastest flowing rivers in Lower Michigan and one of the most popular. Heavy traffic in the summer has created a problem the U.S. Forest Service wants to fix.

The project would mean the end of a sandy bank, about 160 feet high, that attracts crowds of paddlers. It’s an issue that pits peoples’ enjoyment of the river against the river’s health and even public safety.
 

The bank is just above Low Bridge, about 20 miles east of Manistee. It’s almost almost pure sand from top to bottom.