CADILLAC, Mich. – The Huron-Manistee National Forests will delay implementation of an alcohol ban along the AuSable, Manistee and Pine rivers until at least next year.
The delay will give the Forest Service time to work with communities to develop alternative ways to restore public safety and prevent damage to congressionally protected sections of the rivers.
“Individuals and businesses throughout northern Michigan have expressed strong interest in partnering with the Forest Service to address ongoing public safety and environmental issues on our National Wild and Scenic Rivers," said Leslie Auriemmo, Huron-Manistee National Forests supervisor.
Auriemmo said a community-driven solution to such issues is welcomed.
The Forest Service announced a closure order to prohibit alcohol consumption on portions of the rivers in 2019, in an attempt to address public safety issues and protect natural resources.
The Forest Service will organize and chair a group consisting of small businesses, municipal officials, and private citizens from the National Wild and Scenic River corridors.
By May 2019, the group will develop a plan to restore public safety to the rivers. The Forest Service will report regularly on the group’s activities and will continue to promote responsible use of public waters.
Additionally, the Forest Service will work with community partners to implement the plan during the summer. If the action plan does not work, the Forest Service would consider adding the alcohol ban in 2020.
“The Forest Service has a statutory obligation to protect the outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values of our National Wild and Scenic Rivers,” Auriemmo said. “We look forward to working with our community partners to ensure a safe and sustainable recreational experience for all Americans who wish to visit our waterways.”