04 May

U.S. House Honors The Anglers Of The AuSable

Of Michigan
In The U.S. House of Representatives
Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mr. STUPAK. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize one of the most effective, well organized and long standing conservation groups in the State of Michigan, the Au Sable Anglers. This organization, which has done so much to preserve the Au Sable River, celebrates its twentieth anniversary on Saturday.
The Au Sable River is located in northern Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The river winds from Lake Huron inland running approximately 140 miles to the center of the peninsula. This picturesque river and its surrounding wetlands are a favorite fishing spot for Michigan residents seeking brown trout as well as for fishing enthusiasts who travel from across the country each year for some of the best fishing in the nation. The river has faced many threats, but the Au Sable Anglers have remained stalwart champions of the river, helping to preserve this wondrous natural resource for future generations of trout anglers and outdoorsmen.
The Anglers of the Au Sable was born out of efforts to prevent a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) policy from being rescinded. The State’s 1986 Catch and Release fishing policy was at the time being challenged. To thwart efforts to rescind this policy, a local businessman named Rusty Gates, whose fishing lodge and tackle shop abuts the banks of the Au Sable River, rallied supporters. In May of 1986, Mr. Gates began culling a mailing list from his lodge guests and patrons of his fly shop to organize allies and protect the catch and release policy. In September of 1986, six anglers—Rusty Gates, Dan Drislane, Ed McGlinn, Dennis Potter, Vic Prislipski and Gene Ballou—met in the Gates Au Sable Lodge. This organizational meeting was the genesis of the Au Sable Anglers. In August of that year, the Au Sable Anglers held their first annual members meeting with 75 conservationists in attendance.
While the Au Sable Anglers were originally formed to address the issue of the Department of Natural Resources’ Catch and Release policy, they rapidly expanded their areas of interest to face down an array of threats to the Au Sable River.
When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission initiated its re-licensing process for scores of hydroelectric dams in Michigan, including six on the Au Sable River, the Anglers helped ensure that Au Sable River would be protected. In the early 1990s, the Anglers discovered illegal water regulation at a dam on the Au Sable that was causing extremely low water conditions. After pressure from the Anglers, the owner of the dam abandoned this environmentally damaging practice. The Au Sable Anglers were also involved on issues surrounding gas exploration near the river.
Although the Au Sable Anglers are active on public policy and environmental issues affecting the Au Sable River and its ecosystem, they are not afraid to roll up their sleeves to help remediate pollution and keep the river clean. Over the years they have helped restore scores of soil erosion sites and funded the repair and restoration of hundreds of fish habitat sites. Every year since September of 1996, they have held an annual river clean up, in which hundreds of volunteers walk more than 100 miles of river, filling trash bags with waste and debris. Since its inception, the annual river clean up has evolved into an event that rallies the entire Au Sable River community together. Not only do volunteers from the Anglers pitch in, but local property owners along the river open their land to the trash collection teams and help guide the teams from point to point.
The organization has also lent its financial resources towards engaging young people in conservation studies. Over the years, the Anglers have underwritten several graduate biology students to investigate soil erosion and other problems impacting the Au Sable River and its habitat.
Today, after twenty years of hard work to preserve the Au Sable River for future generations, the Au Sable River Anglers remains a vibrant and effective organization. The group boasts over 600 conservationists as dues paying members and remains involved in local environmental issues and in river remediation efforts. Rusty Gates continues to serve as the organization’s President. Like the organization’s founders and board members, he should be commended for dedicating so much of his personal time to building the organization and protecting the Au Sable River.
Madam Speaker, the Au Sable Anglers provide an inspiring example of how ordinary citizens can band together to protect and improve their local environment. While the Au Sable Anglers have not won every battle they have fought, their collective, tireless efforts have done much to preserve one of northern Michigan’s great locations for fishing, canoeing and outdoors life.
Twenty years ago, six outdoorsmen gathered to discuss how they could protect and improve a northern Michigan river that they cared for greatly. Today, twenty years later, thanks to that initial meeting, the Au Sable Anglers remains a vigilant defender of the Au Sable River. Madam Speaker, as this local, grassroots organization observes its twentieth anniversary, I would ask that you and the entire U.S. House of Representatives join me in thanking the Au Sable Anglers for their work and in saluting them for their stalwart advocacy on behalf of the Au Sable River.

You are invited to visit the Anglers of The AuSable site – Go to Blogroll, on the right.

President Gates of The Anglers, The Best of Leaders

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