River Rangers Focus on Sustainable Recreation Outreach “Yours to Share”

Release Date: Jul 1, 2021

Contact(s): Joy VanDrie


The Huron-Manistee National Forest River Stewardship program on the Au Sable, Manistee, Pere Marquette, and Pine Rivers continues with Trout Unlimited and Pere Marquette Watershed Council Partnerships

Cadillac, Michigan. June 29, 2021. The Huron‐Manistee National Forest (HMNF), Trout Unlimited (TU) and the Pere Marquette Watershed Council (PMWC) is working in partnership to increase stewardship and the care of the nationally designated wild and scenic rivers. These partnership programs offer direct outreach to foster sustainable recreation’ and ‘Leave No Trace’ values. The outreach efforts are focused towards the Au Sable, Manistee, Pere Marquette and Pine River Area stakeholders, interested businesses and river paddlers, anglers and floaters.

River Rangers walk the trails, float the river and visit the boat launches to engage with the public

The River Rangers walk the trails, float the river and visit the boat launches to engage with the public. Photo Credit: Huron‐Manistee National Forests

“The objectives are to engage river users and have boots on the ground to encourage responsible recreation on our designated Wild and Scenic River (WSR) within the HMNF,” says Scott Peedle, District Ranger for the Cadillac/Manistee District, “We’ve seen very positive feedback by having these River Rangers either floating the river or stationed at river access points. They are also learning lifetime conservation ethics and outdoor skills.”

“The long‐term benefits of this program will build knowledge and awareness of sustainable outdoor recreation, increase the understanding of outdoor ethics, and promote wild and scenic river values with daily users,” says Leslie Auriemmo, Supervisor, HMNF, “We are all stewards of our forests and rivers, it’s evident in the increased use this past year that this face to face programming is needed. We are seeing the direct impact of the care of our public lands as we struggle to keep up with over‐flowing garbage areas and parking lots.”

Trash in a wide pile of a campsite

The River Rangers are reminding people about the Leave No Trace principles. A camper left this large amount of garbage behind in early June, the Rangers helped identify the camper and cleaned up the site. It is imperative that each of us take ownership in our public lands. Photo Credit: Huron‐Manistee National Forests

“Promoting stewardship for the Wild and Scenic Rivers of the Huron‐Manistee National Forest through the River Rangers program will aid to the protection of our valuable cold‐water resources in Michigan and will have benefits for generations to come,” says Jeremy Geist, Great Lakes Stream Restoration Manager for TU, “Trout Unlimited is excited to continue the River Rangers program this year and beyond.”

 

There are eight (8) total River Rangers, 18‐25 years of age, hired by Trout Unlimited (since 2019) and The Pere Marquette Watershed Council (since 2012) in partnership with the HMNF District offices (Cadillac/Manistee, Baldwin/White Cloud and Mio). For up to 12 weeks the River Rangers will focus their efforts on Thursday thru Monday during high boat launches usage. The River Rangers all are trained in watercraft safety, Leave No Trace principles, public outreach techniques and will also work with TU and PMWC engaging in select partner projects across the Forests.

The smiling faces on a viritual orientation

MS Teams Meet & Greet for the 2021 River Rangers, two on each of the Au Sable, Manistee, Pere Marquette and Manistee Rivers. Photo Credit: Huron‐Manistee National Forests

 

Michigan has more than 51,000 miles of river, of which 656.4 miles are designated as wild & scenic— truly special for Michiganders. While the HMNF manages five wild and scenic river sections for a total of 141.5 miles. The United States Congress created the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free‐flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. With Wild and Scenic River management, we are tasked with managing the Outstanding and Remarkable Values these rivers provide to the local economies, fish and wildlife habitat, and our enjoyment of these special places.

  • Pere Marquette Wild & Scenic River section – 66 miles, designated in 1978, known for scenic, recreation, fisheries and cultural values, this section is from the SE of Custer downstream from the junction of the Middle and Little South Branches east of Baldwin and the Old Highway 31 Bridge. *
  • Au Sable Wild & Scenic River section‐ 23 miles, designated in 1984, known for scenic, free‐flowing, archaeological‐historical, recreation, cold‐water fisheries, wildlife and plant species values, this section is from the main stem from the Mio Pond project boundary downstream to the Alcona Pond boundary. *
  • Manistee Wild & Scenic River section – 26 miles, designated in 1992, known for recreation fisheries, fish and wildlife habitat values, this section is from the MDNR boat ramp below Tippy Dam to the M‐55 Bridge.
  • Pine Wild & Scenic River section – 26 miles, designated in 1992, known for scenic, recreation and fisheries values, the segment is from Lincoln Bridge to the east 1/16th line of Section 16, T21N, R13W. *

*Watercraft permits are required on these rivers.

Leave No Trace Principles: Plan ahead and prepare, know the rules before you go, pack it in/ pack it out, dispose of litter in designated bins, secure possessions in your watercraft, and leave it cleaner than you found it.