Cedars for the Au Sable

Successful Fundraising Campaign

With the help of a matching-fund challenge in the memory of Robert E. Nelson, DDS of Saginaw, Michigan, provided by his son David, over $3500 was raised to subsidize the cost of the 6-ft cages used to protect maturing northern white-cedars along both the Au Sable and Manistee rivers. 

Matching fund donations were received from the following river property owners: Scott Smith, DVM, Peter & Virginia Gustafson, Frank (Paco) & Kerry Janca, Katherine Batha, Linda Weeks/Kalita, Glen & Martha Eberly, Gary Torkeo, George & Karen Keshkevich, Carl Shaner, Boyd & Shirley Dillon, Eric & Nancy Fink, Daniel Havens, James & Marilyn Welser, Neil Wallace, Terri & David Oeming, Charles & Janice Wheeker, and Greg & Diana McComas.

For over 25 years, Cedars for the Au Sable (administered by the Au Sable River Property Owners Alliance) has been providing northern white-cedars to river property owners to begin the reforestation of this valuable resource along our riverbanks. Each cedar seedling needs to be caged for many years to protect the maturing cedar from deer browsing. The donations received 

River Etiquette Sign Installed on Grayling’s Back Bridge

Phase II of the River Etiquette Sign project has been completed by the Au Sable River Property Owners Alliance (ARPOA).  This informational sign, which includes both the float times to downstream take-outs locations and appropriate river etiquette attitudes, has been recently installed upon the Back Bridge in downtown Grayling.  This sign replaced an older wooden sign that provided similar information for decades.

The sign was designed and made locally by Xpress Copy Center of Grayling. It was approved by the City of Grayling board with the assistance of City Manager Erich Podjaske. David Smith and Howard Johnson, along with a local experienced sign installer, Lee Barnett, of Frederic (and his son, Gibson) installed the 84 inches x 48 inches sign over the Au Sable River on Oct 15, 2023. 

This event brings to a close the second phases of the River Etiquette Sign Project when last year twenty-six similar signs were placed at local canoe liveries, city and township river launches, DNR Landings and county road ends. Also, board members Linda Kalita and Ben Pinti created a similar sign for owners of river vacation rentals to display and remind their guests of proper river behavior.

Thanks go to River Etiquette Committee members David Smith, Dolph Greenburg, Boyd Dillon, and all the many board members who helped with the sign installations last year.

Cedars for the Au Sable Project

Now in its twenty-sixth 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 Alliance (ARPOA), over 26,000 northern white-cedar seedlings have been planted and protected in enclosures. 

The northern white-cedars along the riverbank 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 that consume the tiny cedar seedlings before they have an opportunity to develop.  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. 

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, and the Headwaters Chapter (Gaylord) of Trout Unlimited.  This is part of the on-going Mason Tract Northern White-cedar Reforestation Project which planted and protected 900 cedar seedlings within the Mason Tract.  Cedar seedling maintenance continues on state land in the Deward area of the upper Manistee River with conservation organizations planting and protecting cedar seedlings on their assigned segment of the river.

To learn more about Cedars for the Au Sable, go to www.cedarsfortheausable.org.