2016 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 ARPOA

3157 Church Street
Saginaw, MI 48604
989-280-0381 – hnjohnson@aol.com www.cedarsfortheausable.org


On September 17, 2016, forty-one 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. 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’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, 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’s 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. On September 10, 2016 = during the Anglers of the Au Sable River Clean-up; eighteen 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’s 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’s 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’s 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”

Also receiving certificates of appreciation for service were Susan Thiel, MDNR; Patrick Mohney, MDNR; Kathy Ryan, USDA-National Resource Conservation Service; Anna Sylvester, DNR Parks and Recreation; Peter Jones, MGFCTU; David Smith, ARPOA; Marlene Swift, Ralph Rucinski, Jim Shifflet, Julie Gibbs, Patti Johnson. Receiving the Distinguished Service Award was McLean’s Ace Hardware Store for their years of community service warehousing and distributing the 6-ft fence and stakes for the maturing cedars.

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 $8.00 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.