This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
July 14th, 2008

A Little Gratitude

We're back from the Michigan Fish-In, after allowing for some poor airline flights, we arrived home just four hours later than scheduled. It could have been worse, since we spent an unexpected overnight at the airport Hilton in Chicago on the way out. Ever notice how the desk people look at you when you don't have any luggage? (Can you call a rod holder full of fly rods luggage?)

We will do a wrap up of the Fish-In with photos, but since they are still coming in we decided to hold off a week.

I really wanted to give a tip of the FAOL hat to a couple of people and organizations in Michigan. Rusty Gates has been very active over the years in protecting the very valuable resources of the Au Sable river system. The latest battles have included Kolke Creek, (the dumping of waste water in one of the Au Sable headwaters), which will most likely be won in court this summer. Then there is the latest battle to stop any drilling for gas/oil under the Mason Tract. With an injunction in place banning drilling under the Mason Tract the Judge handling the case was reassigned and took the case with him. The good guys aren't rocking the boat, but they know whoever wins will have to face an eventual appeal. It is also necessary to monitor the gas and oil leases which are granted to make sure none will impact the river system.

Rusty told me he isn't sleeping nights. Perhaps being $375,000 in debt to the attorneys who are doing the legal end might just cause a little insomnia? JC and I renewed our membership in the Anglers of the Au Sable while we were there - and the FAOL group who organized this year's Fish-In also made a donation to the Anglers - as they did last year.

Maybe you don't consider this your battle. Since JC and I are originally from Michigan and we still think of the Au Sable as our home water, we understand how truly unique and valuable this wonderful watershed is. Those who have attended the Michigan Fish-In over the past few years have certainly had a taste of it.

Our friend Steve Southard had also been involved with restoration of the Au Sable and Manistee over several years. The Trout Bums Picnic and BBQ has raised around $75,000, and has been responsible for the storm water gardens which keep the surface water (rainstorms) from flushing petro products from the roads into the river. Pressure from both groups, and Trout Unlimited, resulted in a new sewage treatment plant in Grayling. All good news for the river as well as those who love it.

Steve now has recording thermometers in place in several places on the rivers and can monitor sudden changes. He also has some ideas for some restoration work on the East Branch of the Au Sable. Seems that area has been sort of ignored with more major problems elsewhere.

At any rate, we are terribly grateful there are people in the Grayling region (and support elsewhere) who are willing to fight the battles to keep the Au Sable River system free for all of us to use and enjoy.

It isn't easy folks - God Bless those who are doing the job. ~ The LadyFisher

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