Anglers of the Au Sable asks DEQ to reject hatchery permit to protect “Holy Waters”
Lansing, Michigan: Anglers of the Au Sable has asked an administrative law judge to reject the pollutant discharge permit issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to the Harietta-Grayling fish hatchery, located on the East Branch of the Au Sable River in Grayling, Michigan."
The Department of Environmental Quality is prepared to allow development of the Harrietta Grayling fish hatchery even though it would allow pollution into the river and increase the danger of serious fish disease that could devastate the local fish population – and the region’s economy.
Anglers of the Au Sable was formed to protect the Au Sable River and its headwaters, one of the nation’s top trout stream systems and a driver of the region’s economy. The association, with more than 650 members from across Michigan, the United States and Canada, says the permit does not meet the requirements of state clean water regulation. Anglers has recommended a number of modifications that would bring the permit into compliance with the state mad federal standards.
“We are mystified why the state is not requiring the same standards and protocols that it follows at the state-of-the-art Platte River Hatchery,” said Bruce Pregler, chairman of the Angler’s board of directors. “We are only asking that the Au Sable and its ‘Holy Waters,’ a nationally recognized blue ribbon trout stream, receive the same protection from this commercial hatchery that the state has adopted successfully in operating its own hatchery on the Platte River.”
Anglers joins the Sierra Club in challenging the state’s permit. The permit itself states that “lowering the water quality (of the Au Sable River) is necessary to support the identified important social and economic development in the area.”
The Angler’s challenge notes that the Crawford County economy relies on a clean Au Sable River, attracting land owners and anglers to its banks. A study by Public Sector Consultants, Inc. found that 11 percent of the county’s property parcels are along the river, accounting for 26 percent of the total State Equalized Value of county property. In addition, fishing supports hundreds of jobs in the form of local guides, fly shops, restaurants,realtors, lodges and other businesses who benefit from the river’s fishery.
By contrast, the hatchery will have virtually no economic benefit for the community according to its own documents submitted to the DEQ, creating only one to two full time jobs and two seasonal positions.
“We know that a hatchery can be successfully operated and the river adequately protected under these standards because the state is doing it every day,” said Pregler. “Why would we let a commercial enterprise operate under less stringent standards than the one the state uses? And why would we let a company that will have two employees endanger a river that is the economic lifeblood for hundreds of workers in the community?”
The Angler’s filing asks that the state revise its permit to:
· Further limit introduction phosphorus into the river. Phosphorus is a key driver of algae growth, which impacts aquatic insect life, adversely affecting river fish.
· Address possible problems with nitrogen, organic carbon and dissolved oxygen in its analysis.
· Follow similar monitoring and testing protocols as those used at the Platte River Hatchery, instead of the less frequent sampling and testing required under the permit being contested.
· Limit the introduction of total suspended solids and fish wastes into the river. Those wastes can create conditions for fish diseases in the native fish population, including the dreaded whirling disease, with potentially devastating consequences.
· Suspend any permit until the Grayling hatchery has in place a solid waste management plan following best practices. The permit issued by the department allowed the hatchery to move forward before it was required to develop a solid waste management plan.
· Require that a performance bond be filed with issuance of the permit, to ensure that cleanup can go forward in case of a problem even if the hatchery owners cannot pay for it. Without a bond, the DEQ says taxpayers will pay for any cleanup if the hatchery owner defaults.
Recent Developments on the Grayling Fish Hatchery
Here We Go Again!
The last time we needed to save the Holy Waters -- now it's the whole river. The latest nominations for oil and gas leases by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) includes such treasures as Hartwick Pines State Park, the headwaters of the South Branch, the Manistee below M-72, and in and along the Holy Waters (including a parcel beneath Gates Au Sable Lodge). If that sounds bad, it's because it is.
Despite many of these parcels being listed as non-development, Anglers believes even putting such sensitive parcels on the auction block is contrary to the credo of the Michigan DNR. We also believe that such listings could potentially be reversed, contrary to assurances from the DNR.
Assurances aren't enough.
Last December we thought that our position had been made clear: These are special places let them stay as they are. With regard to The Holy Waters, DNR agreed and crafted a set of guidelines toward that end. Unfortunately these latest actions give us pause for concern.
A recent article in The Bridge illustrates just how much is at stake.
The sheer amount of acreage up for auction in Crawford and Roscommon Counties is disheartening. It isn't limited to just a few parcels here and there, this auction is for thousands of acres in and around our beloved rivers and forested areas. There are numerous parcels very near Higgins and Houghton lakes as well and while those lakes are not in our watershed, the number of parcels in that area and the Hartwick Pines parcels shows a blatant disregard of preserving the state's recreation resources. Again, not just a few key parcels, enormous areas some of which are literally in the back yards of area residents. The fact that it seems to incorporate so many of our waterways makes responses from those receiving this email, and your friends, families, and conservations groups, all the more essential.
Let's be heard.
Written comments may be sent to Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Minerals
Management Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.
Email comments to: Julie Manson, email@example.com
Let them know that you absolutely oppose the parcels highlighted by the Anglers of the Au Sable in our public comment to the DNR.
Anglers of the Au Sable has joined more than 25 other leading environmental groups in expressing to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grave concerns about proposed rules governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Michigan. Read the letter to the DEQ here for details.
Thank you to those who have sent individual letters opposing the current rules. You can make your position known by emailing DEQ-FrackingRules@michigan.gov before July 31.
Camp Grayling Expansion
Premier of "The River" is a stunning success!
Scroll down to learn how to order the DVD.
The Rialto Theater in downtown Grayling was the place to be this past Saturday night April 26, 2014, as the Anglers of the Au Sable sponsored the world premiere of Director Robert Thompson's movie, "The River". Anglers and movie goers showed up in big numbers to watch this beautifully shot movie about the Au Sable River, its history, fly fishers, and its defenders. Initial estimates indicate that 300 folks paid admission to see the movie. A portion of the ticket and DVD sales went to the Anglers. As the anticipation grew, raffles were held and Anglers swag was handed out. Then the lights dimmed and "The River" began. The picture opens in the winter as fly fisherman tease a trout into taking their fly. Thompson then proceeds to take us through a season of fly fishing on the Au Sable, showing us the trials and tribulations fly fishing in the spring, summer and fall. Hoots and hollering from the crowd could be heard as fish were landed or lost. Through out the filming of the fishing season, Thompson seamless cuts away from the fishing to, tell the history of this amazing river, chat with folks who make their living on the water and gives a heart warming tribute to Anglers founder Rusty Gates. If you see one movie this year watch, "The River". While the movie was rolling an employee of the Rialto was overheard saying that this was the biggest crowd she could remember. As the movie closed and credits rolled the crowd raucously cheered and applauded. Thereafter, we called the filmmaker up on stage for a few words. RT as his friends know him, graciously thank the crowd for the applause and support. The crowd then spilled out on to Michigan Avenue. Where many movie goers went to Spikes and other local establishments for a little afterglow. In reflection upon the evening, my heart beats with Angler pride as the event not only raised money for Anglers of the Au Sable but in a small way brought some business to the Rialto Theater and downtown Grayling. On behalf of the Board of Directors for the Anglers, we thank all of you who purchased a ticket, a DVD, donated raffle items, or worked on setting up the event. We truly appreciate your support. Finally, a special thank you goes out to the owner of the Rialto, Jordan Stancil for agreeing to let the Anglers host this event at the Rialto. This is a great venue and we hope to be back for future events. Yes, It truly was a trout opener to remember.
- Bruce Pregler, President of AOTA
Here are some places to purchase the film:
The River DVD (standard) $30
The River DVD (BluRay) $35
Michigan Retail Outlets:
Gates Lodge (Grayling)
Old AuSable Fly Shop (Grayling)
Fullers NBOC (Lovells)
AuSable Angler (Mio)
Nomad Anglers (Okemos & Grand Rapids)
Schultz Outfitters (Ypsilanti)
Little Forks Outfitters (Midland)
Pere Marquette Lodge (Baldwin)
RW Summers Company (Traverse City)
Other Midwest Outlets:
Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters (Chicago)
Lunds Fly Shop (River Falls, WI)
Driftless Fly Fishing Company (Preston, MN)
standard $33 shipped
BluRay $38 shipped