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Young northern white cedars are disappearing from Michigan’s river banks.

Long-living cedars have been a vital part of the northern Michigan river ecosystem for centuries. They cool the rivers with their shade, stabilize the banks and create habitat for fish and their food sources. But in the last several decades, young cedar seedlings have been severely over-browsed by white-tail deer and hare.

Key to the protection of the rivers as cold water fisheries is a special cedar seedling planting kit developed by Howard N. Johnson and Cedars for the Au Sable (CFAS). A restoration/reforestation project of the Au Sable River Property Owners Association (ARPOA) since 1997, CFAS and it’s many volunteers have partnered with private river property owners, river conservation organizations and the Michigan DNR to plant over 20,000 northern white cedar trees in protective enclosures on the Au Sable and Manistee rivers.

The Cedar Seedling Planting Kit includes 10 cedar seedlings and protective fencing as well as education and continued oversight to ensure the seedlings reach maturity. The kits are $15 (a $35 value subsidized by our many sponsors) and are available for planting in September each year. With a seedling survival rate of over 70%, Cedars of the Au Sable is safeguarding the future of the Au Sable and Manistee rivers as healthy cold water fisheries.