2014 CFAS News Release

An Au Sable River System Cedar Tree Planting and Protection Project

Originated and administrated by the Au Sable River Property Owners Association (ARPOA), P.O. Box 15, Grayling, MI 49738.

Contact: Howard N. Johnson, Project Chair
3157 Church Street
Saginaw, MI 48604
989-280-0381 – hnjohnson@aol.com


Forty-five river property owners planted 725 northern white-cedar seedlings this fall in an effort to preserve and protect the cold-water fishery of the Au Sable and Manistee River watershed. Now in its eighteenth 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’s ecological system. Since the beginning of this project in 1997 by the Au Sable River Property Owners Association (ARPOA), over 18,500 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, Howard R. Johnson, Thomas Johnson, Boyd & Shirley Dillon, Tim Hornsey, Jon Hunter, Greg Stansbury, Jim Shifflet, Ralph Rucinski, and Chairman Howard N. Johnson. Ivan Witt, Registered Forester, Forestry Consultants, Inc 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, Sierra Club, Headwaters Chapter (Gaylord) of Trout Unlimited and Paul H. Young Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Chris Reister, of the Paul H. Young Chapter, headed a work project to maintain their planting in the Daisy Bend area including the replanting of 12 cedar seedlings and installing 10 larger enclosures to protect growing cedars. 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.

Cedar seedling planting began in 2011 on state land in the Deward area of the upper Manistee River. In 2014, the Mason Griffith Founders Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Headwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited planted an additional 50 cedars each. Anglers of the Au Sable planted 50 cedar seedlings within a newly assigned site on the west side of the river. Also, Claire Wood with Huron Pines RC&D and Lorne Beatty with the Sierra Club of Michigan partnered with the youth from the Kalkaska SEEDS afterschool program to plant an addition 50 seedlings A total of 200 cedars have been planted within the Deward Area. Additional partners in this project include Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Forest Management Unit, and Huron Pines RC&D.

Many additional donations have been made to the project during the year from supporters. Major donations were received from both the Trout and Salmon Foundation 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 Cedars for the Au Sable project received the “Outstanding Project Award” from the Michigan DNR – Forest Management Division. The award was presented to project chairman Howard N. Johnson by Michigan DNR Forester Patrick Mohney. Also, a video of the cedar planting project can be viewed on the Craig Porter’s website: www.ausabletrout.com

Project chairman Johnson announced that a program to further protect the maturing northern white-cedars that have been planted in previous years has been prepared. Past project participants may purchase the larger enclosures at McLean’s Ace Hardware in Grayling when their seedlings out-grow their existing small enclosures. This taller enclosure is black PVC coated fencing material that will make the enclosure inconspicuous at the river’s edge. The cost of this larger enclosure, along with three additional wooden stakes, is $5.00 each. This expense is partially subsidized by project supporters, Riverdale Mills Corporation, and McLean’s Ace Hardware.

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.

The actual cost for all the material in the planting kit was substantially more than the asking price. The purchase price was subsidized by: Riverdale Mills Corporation, Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation, Trout and Salmon Foundation, The Hal & Jean Glassen Memorial Foundation , AJD Forest Products, Anglers of the Au Sable (Grayling), Mason – Griffith Founders Chapter (Grayling) of Trout Unlimited, William B. Mershon Chapter (Saginaw) of Trout Unlimited, Paul H. Young Chapter (Detroit) of Trout Unlimited, Headwaters Chapter (Gaylord) of Trout Unlimited, Challenge Chapter (Bloomfield Hills) of Trout Unlimited, Leon P. Martuch (Midland), Lansing Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Ann Arbor Area Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Upper Manistee River Association, Michigan Fly Fishing Club, Au Sable North Branch Area Association, Grayrock Rodmakers, Au Sable River Watershed Restoration Committee, and Mr. Craig Hinkle, Re/Max of Grayling.