Written by Bob Andrus, Chairman
Wednesday, 22 October 2008 18:00
The Au Sable River Watershed Restoration Committee is a partnership of 32 organizations and agencies dedicated to the restoration, improvement, maintenance and protection of the Au Sable River watershed. The Committee serves as an umbrella organization that coordinates the implementation of the Au Sable River Watershed Management Plan and assists its partners in the development, promotion and implementation of projects. The Committee develops programs to facilitate communication between the partners and initiates Committee sponsored restoration projects.
Reduced funding from supporting organizations and agencies has resulted in reduced river restoration activity here in the Au Sable River watershed. During the past two years, less federal and state monies have been available for maintaining high quality water found in Michigan. Also during this period, tens of thousands of dollars from many of the organizations that support Au Sable River restoration efforts have been diverted to costly court battles.
Cold-water resource advocates led by a Committee partner Anglers of the Au Sable challenged a US Forest Service impact statement allowing for gas development in an area adjacent to the Mason Tract on the Au Sable’s south branch. Small feeder creeks surrounded many of the proposed drill sites. On a second front, a state decision to allow low cost sixty-year old technology to deal with an oil well leak in the Au Sable and Manistee headwaters was challenged. Again the Anglers took a leading role in the court challenge demanding more responsible clean-up techniques. When bottling interests wanted to redefine the meaning of no impact in Michigan’s new Groundwater Withdrawal Law the Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited labored long and hard to counter industry proposals for the enabling legislation. Failure to address any of these issues could have catastrophic impacts on our trout streams.
Even with reduced funding the Committee and its partners have forged ahead with many diverse projects. The slow up has also allowed the Committee time to reevaluate its goals and objectives. In November, the 32 Committee partners approved a new partnership agreement. The new agreement replaces the original 1989 document. The new partnership agreement and project updates can be viewed by visiting the Committee’s web page (available in mid January 2008) at: http://www.huronpines.org/project.php?action=view&projectId=74 2007 Au Sable Projects include:
- Au Sable North Branch Area Association initiative to raise funds for a North Branch Watershed Management Plan which will be developed by Huron Pines in 2008
- A Committee sponsored bridge replacement on Crapo Creek
- The Au Sable North Branch Watershed Restoration Committee’s Brown Trout Redd Survey, Purple Loosestrife Survey, and Water Chemical Monitoring Project
- The Upper Au Sable Preservation Association’s Cedar Tree Initiative including the south branch cedar project in the Mason Tract
- The ASRWRC Large Woody Debris Placement Project implemented by the Huron Pines crew on the main-stream and north branch. For a complete list of project partners please visit: http://www.huronpines.org/project.php?projectId=72
- The Grayling Storm Water Project completed its second year with the installation of the last two oil and grit separator units and planting of native vegetation in the previously constructed rain gardens. For a complete list of project partners please visit: http://www.huronpines.org/project.php?projectId=16
- The Grayling Mill Pond was lowered another three inches
- Volunteer river restoration work projects were completed by Paul H. Young Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Kalamazoo Valley of Trout Unlimited Youth Camp attendees and Au Sable Big Waters Preservation Association
New 2008 Projects Being Developed:
- The Upper Au Sable River Enhancement Project funded with Federal Dingle-Johnson and Michigan Department of Natural Resources funding is slated to begin again this summer after a two-year hiatus; this $200,000 grant would go primarily toward funding work crews engaged in large woody debris placement on the main stream.
- Committee established Au Sable River Keeper Program to monitor threats to watershed
- Committee enacted Volunteer Work Project Program to more effectively address needs of volunteer groups seeking work projects on the Au Sable River
- The Gahagan Nature Preserve’s Volunteer Water-Quality Monitoring Study using aquatic macro-invertebrates.
- Anglers of the Au Sable’s South Branch Large Woody Debris Placement project
The success of river restoration and protection efforts in the Au Sable watershed requires dedicated resource advocates. In the Au Sable Valley we are fortunate to have dozens of volunteers and agency professionals who work tirelessly to protect and improve our unique resource. The Committee applauds you and your efforts.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 18:42