The Grayling Fish Hatchery is an obsolete, 100 year old “flow through” facility on the East Branch of the Au Sable. It was last operated by Crawford County as a tourist attraction.
The hatchery was leased to Harrietta Hills-Grayling for 5 cents a year over 20 years.
The proposal is to operate an industrial scale fish farm and increase production from under 20,000 pounds of fish per year to 300,000 pounds per year.
The DEQ pollution discharge permit issued for the facility has: dangerously high standards for phosphorus and suspended solids (fish feces and waste feed); no standards for nitrogen, ammonia, biological oxygen demand or dissolved oxygen; inadequate monitoring requirements; and inadequate protocols for escapement or disease control. No performance bond is required.
The permit is supported by the Michigan Agriculture Department, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Aquaculture Association, and other agricultural interests.
The permit is opposed by many groups including Anglers of the Au Sable, Fly Fishers International, Michigan Trout Unlimited, many local chapters of TU, the Sierra Club, the Au Sable and North Branch property owners associations, and many local outdoor recreation and tourism businesses.
Anglers of the Au Sable plans to challenge a recommendation by a state administrative law judge issued Feb. 1 requiring some alterations to a Department of Environmental Quality permit issued to a fish farm in Grayling, but still allowing pollution of the Au Sable River.
“While the judge did call for additional monitoring of the river, and he mandated some minor improvements at the Grayling Fish Hatchery, his ruling still allows fish feces, excess food and escaped farm trout to continue polluting this pristine cold water resource,” said Tom Baird, president of Anglers of the Au Sable, an organization formed to protect the river. “The fish farm will still use the river as its sewer, and that should be unacceptable to all who use and live on this outstanding waterway. We will ask DEQ Director Heidi Grether to reject this permit completely and restore common sense to this situation.”
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has agreed to a permit allowing Harrietta Hills Trout Farm LLC, to take over the small scale fish hatchery on the East Branch of Au Sable.
The permit lets the 20,000 pound/year tourist attraction grow to a 300,000 pound/year fish factory – the biggest in Michigan. It will create two new jobs – and endanger the economy of the entire region.
The DEQ permit would allow: • Massive pollution from fish farm, which can cause algae blooms that reduce dissolved oxygen and ultimately impacts the fishery. • Increased risk of whirling disease. • Fish escapement. • No financial responsibility required of the trout factory. Any environmental catastrophe will be cleaned up at tax payer expense, not the trout farm.
Detroit, Michigan: Anglers of the Au Sable has received the “Advocate of the Year” award from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, for the organization’s long tradition of standing up to challenges to the Au Sable’s rivers waters and wildlife.
The award, accepted by Anglers’ President Tom Baird, recognizes the group for “tenaciously defending the waters and wildlife of the mighty Au Sable River for almost three decades, for standing up to state and local policy decisions that threaten the Au Sable river and many other great Michigan waterways, and for being leaders in the fight to protect the clean fresh water that draws millions to Michigan every year.”
“We are honored to accept this award on behalf of the hundreds of members of Anglers of the Au Sable and in the spirit of our founder, Rusty Gates, who never tired of fighting to keep the river and its environs clean and suitable for trout,” said Baird after receiving the award Oct. 2. “This is also a tribute to our most recent past president, Bruce Pregler, and board members who have spent hours in tireless and often unrecognized work battling to preserve the special place that is the Au Sable River valley.”
Anglers of the Au Sable has fought court battles to protect the river and its headwaters against oil companies, worked with state officials to provide information that blocked a planned expansion of Camp Grayling that would have harmed the river, was recently instrumental in persuading state officials not to withdraw plans to allow oil drilling beneath the “Holy Waters” section and Hartwick Pines, and today is pressing for strong anti-pollution standards to prevent damage to the river and trout from a proposed fish hatchery.
“We have a history of working to preserve the Au Sable for trout fishing – and the economic boost that comes to the region because of the sports anglers who come from around the state, across the nation and all over the world to enjoy our blue ribbon trout stream,” said Baird. “The work continues – and the state is better because of Anglers and groups and companies like it recognized by the League of Conservation Voters.”
Also recognized by the League were Ford as Business of the Year and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and U.S. Rep. John Dingell, who received lifetime achievement awards.
Anglers of the Au Sable is a membership organization created to preserve the pristine waters of the Au Sable River and its headwaters for the enjoyment of all. It has more than 700 members from across the nation, and is open to any person committed to the long-term conservation of the Au Sable watershed.