2015 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 Founder & Chair
3157 Church Street
Saginaw, MI 48604
989-280-0381 – hnjohnson@aol.com


Thirty-eight river property owners planted 430 new northern white-cedar seedlings and an additional forty-eight property owners replanted 650 northern white-cedars during the fall of 2015 in an effort to preserve and protect the cold-water fishery of the Au Sable and Manistee River watershed. Now in its nineteenth year, the “Cedars for the Au Sable” (CFAS) 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 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, Boyd & Shirley Dillon, Karen Harrison, Dave Waltz, Ralph Rucinski, Pat and Peter Schmidt, Barb and Gary Vetter, and Carol Vidrio. Marie Harrington supervised this year’s distribution. Ivan Witt, Registered Forester, Forestry Consultants, Inc. provided technical assistance.

Due to a problem with overheating of the cedar seedlings during shipment in the fall of 2014, it became necessary to replant 650 cedar seedlings in the fall of 2015. The cost of the replant cedar seedlings was reimbursed by the tree nursery. Well over 90% of the seedlings were replanted with the help of the river property owners and volunteers.

Plantings and caring of existing cedars continued within the Mason Tract by the Anglers of the Au Sable, Mason – Griffith Founders Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Paul H. Young Chapter of Trout Unlimited. These groups provided three work crews to maintain and install 6-ft protective enclosures at Downey’s Stairs, Downey’s Wall, Baldwin’s and Canoe Harbor. 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 2015 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. A total of 750 cedars have been planted within the Deward Area since 2011. Additional partners in this project include Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Forest Management Unit, Huron Pines RC&D, and the Upper Manistee River Association.

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.

Each year, Trout Unlimited (TU) bestows awards to publicly recognize the outstanding achievements of its members, chapters and councils that have embodied the values of TU and fulfilled its mission to conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. “Cedars for the Au Sable” founder and chairman Howard N. Johnson received one of the highest awards given by Trout Unlimited; the Distinguished Service Award for Conservation. This national award was presented to Howard at TU’s national convention in September.

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 Michigan Fly Fishing Club, 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, Upper Manistee River Association, Au Sable North Branch Area Association, Grayrock Rodmakers, Au Sable River Watershed Restoration Committee, and Mr. Craig Hinkle, Re/Max of Grayling.