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Cedars for the AuSable

REGION – Forty Three river property owners planted 600 northern white-cedar seedlings in an effort to preserve and protect the cold-water fishery of the Au Sable and Manistee River watershed recently. Now in its twentieth year, the “Cedars for the Au Sable” project encourages river property owners to replant their native northern white-cedar seedlings along the river’s edge to help maintain the delicate balance of the river’ ecological system.

Since the beginning of this project in 1997 by the Au Sable River Property Owners Association (ARPOA), over 20,000 northern white-cedar seedlings have been planted and protected in enclosures.

The northern white-cedars along the river bank provide needed shade to maintain the cold water fishery of the river. The presence of the cedar sweepers at the water line provides protection for the fish, increases the amount of large woody debris in the water, as well as the preservation of the riverbank by locking in the soil.

There is virtually no natural reforestation of northern white-cedar in northern Michigan. Many believe it is mainly due to the tremendous deer populations in our northern counties. River property owners have long recognized the complete absence of any young cedars in our area. They have attempted to plant replacement cedar seedlings only to have the deer and hares eat them again. Recognizing that this problem existed and a solution needed to be found, volunteer members of the ARPOA pre-packaged northern white-cedar seedlings into a planting kit.

Included in this planting kit are: 10 northern white-cedar seedlings, protective fencing material, wooden stakes, and complete planting instructions.

Volunteer members of the Au Sable River Property Owners Association assisting with this year’s distribution included: Rodney Ney, Marie Harrington, Dave Smith, Boyd & Shirley Dillon, Tim Hornsey, Greg Stansbury, Ralph Rucinski, Julie and Jim Gibbs, Lee Scheffler, Pat and Peter Schmidt, Harry Stuart, Steve Witt, Mike McIntosh, Steve Loudon, and Chairman Howard N. Johnson. Ivan Witt, Registered Forester, Forestry Consultants, Inc. and Patrick Mohney, DNR Forester provided technical assistance.

Plantings and caring of existing cedars continued within the Mason Tract by the Anglers of the Au Sable, Mason – Griffith Founders Chapter (Grayling) of Trout Unlimited, William B. Mershon Chapter (Saginaw) of Trout Unlimited, Sierra Club, Headwaters Chapter (Gaylord) of Trout Unlimited and Paul H. Young Chapter of Trout Unlimited. On June 4, 2016, Chris Reister of the Paul H. Young Chapter, headed a work project to maintain their planting in the Daisy Bend area including the installation of 5 larger enclosures to protect growing cedars and an additional 7 larger enclosures at Downey’ Stairs.

At Daisy Bend, the first of the planted cedar seedlings had its enclosure completely removed. This is part of the on-going Mason Tract Northern White-cedar Reforestation Project which planted and protected 700 cedar seedlings within the Mason Tract. During the Anglers of the Au Sable River Clean-up this fall; 18 volunteers worked two sites within the Mason Tract maintaining cedar enclosures and installing larger fencing.

The site on the south side of the south branch at Chase Bridge was maintained, while Anglers of the Au Sable’ Lower Highbanks Stairs area had a total of 35 larger enclosures installed.

Many additional donations have been made to the project during the year from supporters. Major donations were received from both the Challenge Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Michigan Fly Fishing Club. Also, Riverdale Mills Corporation; manufactures of the black PVC fencing we use to protect the growing cedars, have made their product available to the project at a discounted price.

The Au Sable River Property Owners Association (ARPOA) presented two ‘Volunteer’ Award’ at their annual meeting held July 16, 2016. Recipients of the awards for ‘years of distinguished service and dedication to the re-forestation of the Au Sable and Manistee River basins’. The awards were presented to Rod Ney, Jr and Marie Harrington by Cedars for the Au Sable’ chairman Howard N. Johnson. Johnson stated, ‘there are hundreds of volunteers who help with the cedar seedling and protection project, however both Rod and Marie have provided extraordinary support to the project over many years’

To order planting kits for next summer, (or to start a similar project on your favorite river) please contact project chairman Howard N. Johnson at 989-280-0381, hnjohnson@aol.com, or visit the web site: www.cedarsfortheausable.org for more information or to make a donation to the project.

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