My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan


Here are some links to other great websites, and why I think you should visit them.

The Little Traverse Conservancy

The Little Traverse Conservancy seems to operate differently than most conservancies or land trusts, they actually encourage people to visit the land they have protected, rather than turning people away. I was a member of the Nature Conservancy for many years, and a number of others for shorter times. It seems most of them tag every piece of land they obtain as “too environmentally sensitive” for the general public to visit. Not so with the LTC, they have a few small preserves set as off-limits, but most are open to the public, and even have systems of marked trails for visitors to follow. A very worthy organization in my opinion.

Since 1972, the Little Traverse Conservancy has evolved to become one of the most established and effective regional land trusts in the country. From a small group of dedicated volunteers, the organization has now grown to a full-time professional staff and more than 150 volunteers. We are funded entirely by individuals and receive no government funding for operations.

The Little Traverse Conservancy is a broad coalition of individuals, families, and businesses who agree that the acquisition and protection of natural land is important if we are to retain the quality of life which makes northern Michigan so attractive. The Little Traverse Conservancy is supported entirely by people who willingly donate their time, talent, and financial support to protect irreplaceable natural land. The Little Traverse Conservancy represents people’s willingness to put their money where their heart is to protect natural land. We seek to adorn our communities, as they grow, with beautiful open spaces. Just as an architect uses plantings and gardens to add to the aesthetic beauty of a building, we work to provide scenic views, open spaces, and wildlife habitat to enhance our communities.

 Trout Unlimited

Trout Unlimited

You may think of Trout Unlimited as a fly fishing group, but it is more of a group of fly fishermen devoted to preserving rivers, and the land they flow through. I think one of the best things about TU is their willingness to work out pragmatic solutions to many environmental problems. They are not an extremist group that say no to everything, or file a lawsuit at the drop of a hat, but rather try to work out compromises that work both to preserve rivers, while still allowing some development.

July 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of TU’s founding on the banks of the Au Sable River near Grayling, Michigan. The 16 fishermen who gathered at the home of George Griffith were united by their love of trout fishing, and by their growing discontent with the state’s practice of stocking its waters with “cookie cutter trout”—catchable-sized hatchery fish. Convinced that Michigan’s trout streams could turn out a far superior fish if left to their own devices, the anglers formed a new organization: Trout, Unlimited (the comma was dropped a few years later) dedicated to ensuring that wild and native trout populations were allowed to thrive, as nature intended.

 Anglers of the Au Sable

Another group of mostly fly fishermen who work to preserve the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers, and the lands they run through.

The Anglers of the Au Sable is much more than a fishing club. Our activities are driven by issues affecting the greater Au Sable ecosystem. To that end, we have and will continue to intervene in: fishing and recreational legislation; National Guard expansion and training activities at Camp Grayling; pollution and other environmental problems; stream improvement programs; fisheries and environmental research; educational programs; and sponsorship of affiliated conservation organizations that further the interests of the Au Sable.

The idea for establishing an organization like the Anglers of the Au Sable was borne out of the need to counter the efforts of individuals and organizations to rescind the 1986 Catch and Release fishing policy implemented by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Catch and Release Regulations, as they were adopted on the upper section of the Au Sable River’s main branch, popularly known as the “Holy Water,” specified that all trout, regardless of size, must be returned to the water unharmed.

Many traditionalists, accustomed to fishing the Au Sable’s main branch and taking home supper, flatly rejected this policy and sought legal action to reverse the policy. The effort was organized and serious and was met with disfavor by many who supported the practice of Catch and Release and applauded the DNR’s new policy for the Holy Water. Supporters of the new policy were spearheaded by the late Rusty Gates, a fishing lodge and tackle shop owner, whose business abuts the banks of the Au Sable’s main branch ten miles east of Grayling.

Rusty’s efforts to organize fishermen to oppose the efforts of the anti-Catch-and-Release faction were quite successful during the summer months of 1986. In September of that year, Rusty, along with a group of five other sympathizers, met and decided to found a group of fly fishers and conservationists that would promote and support the long term well-being of the Au Sable River watershed.


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