New Plan Replaces Alcohol Ban on Three Northern Michigan Rivers

There is a new plan to replace the outright alcohol ban on certain parts of northern Michigan rivers.

The U.S. Forest Service says it’s going with a more self-policing approach. 

The forest service, along with their community partners, presented the ‘It’s All Yours’ campaign Wednesday.

It aims to educate river users on how they can do their part to take care of our rivers.

In Feb., the U.S. Forest Service banned alcohol within 200 feet of parts of the AuSable, Manistee and Pine Rivers.

They cited safety and pollution as reasons why.

However after intense backlash, the Forest Service went back to the drawing board.

This plan only affects parts of these rivers.

For the AuSable River, between Mio Dam Pond to the 4001 Canoe Landing.

For the big Manistee River, it affects the area from the Tippy Dam, down to the Huron-Manistee National Forest’s Administrative Boundary.

On the Pine River from Elm Flats to Low Bridge.

These areas are originally where the U.S. Forest Service wanted to ban alcohol.

That outright ban is not happening for now , but you will see more ways to keep the areas clean.

The Forest Service wants to encourage people to use the rivers and enhance the economy, while making sure that harmful behaviors become a thing of the past.

“We were seeing individuals who were causing threats to public safety, harassing other river users, wide spread littering. We were seeing trespass on private property,” said Nate Peeters, a public affairs officer for the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

All problems the U.S. Forest Service hopes to address.

“We heard from a lot of folks after the alcohol ban was put in place who were surprised and often quite upset that they would no longer be able to responsibly have a beer on the river,” said Peeters.

They dropped that approach.

Now, their plan is based on educating the public with posters and offering mesh bags to discourage littering.

Twin Oaks Campgrounds and Cabins are helping to promote this plan.

“We have to talk to our guests. We have to spread the message that hey you have to be responsible on the rivers,” said Michael Wendt, the owner of Twin Oaks Campgrounds and Cabins.

They saw an immediate impact after the proposed alcohol ban.

“My wife and I got a phone call from our guests within 48 hours and lost 3% of our business in that 48 hours because of the ban,” said Wendt.

That’s why he says everyone needs to step up.

“Law enforcement on these rivers is difficult because of the lack of manpower so really if we want to see that cultural change then we all have to be part of that cultural change as community members,” explained Wendt.

The Forest Service will re-evaluate things in the fall.

If behaviors are not fixed, an alcohol ban could still be on the table.