Mio Business Owners Fear the Impact of New Alcohol Ban

Drinking alcohol on some parts of Northern Michigan rivers this summer could land you a hefty fine or even jail time under a new rule.

Beginning this May, the Huron-Manistee National Forests says alcohol will be prohibited on or within 200 feet at parts of certain rivers.

It includes:

The AuSable River between the Mio Dam Pond and 4001 Canoe Landing.

The Manistee River between Tippy Dam and the national forest boundary.

The Pine River between Elm Flats and Low Bridge.

Mio is a town that relies on the AuSable River and many of the businesses we spoke with say this ban could have devastating effects to their bottom line.

“It was completely unexpected, we had no idea it was coming,” Gotts’ Landing Co-Owner Kim Priestap, said.

Gotts’ Landing rents canoes, kayaks and tubes on the banks of the AuSable River.

“We don’t know if we are going to live through summer, honestly. I’m hearing that campgrounds are losing money, people are already cancelling, they’re going elsewhere,” Prisetap, added.

It’s a fear shared by many Mio-based businesses.

“We think now we are going to be in big trouble and we are hoping not to lose the store that is one of our concerns right now. We don’t have a business base here in town to draw from and I think overall it’s really going to hurt us,” AuSable River Outfitters Owner Brian Sukarukoff, said.

The forest service says it’s for public safety and the health of the river.

Local business owners like Preistep say that’s something they are always working to take care of.

“It’s in our best interest to keep our river clean and we are very engaged in that,” she added.

Some are still waiting to see what effects the ban will have.

“It could increase people with families or it could just completely kibosh everything, I don’t know, this is all new,” AuSable Valley Inn Owner Randy Willson, said.

There is an online petition that already has more than 30,000 signatures.

Many are hoping the Forest Service rolls back their plans.

“We’ve put together a proposal that we are going to be submitting to the U.S. Forest Service and we are hoping something good comes from that,” Priestap, said