Au Sable River is Under Attack

This will be a short post explaining the problem currently threatening the Au Sable River. I will include links to more information below, as well as a link to donate to – the main group fighting to save this world renowned fishery.


The Michigan DEQ (yes, the same group made infamous by the Flint water crisis), has approved a permit to turn a small tourist attraction into a large scale fish farm on the Au Sable River. Currently the small flow through hatchery produces less than 20,000 fish per year, but the state and county have approved the expansion, up to 300,000 fish per year. Details of why this is a huge problem that could kill one of the worlds best trout streams is laid out very well here:

But the key points that I have taken from the article are these:

  • Harrieta Hills (the people wanting to expand the farm) is being given the land for $1 on a 20 year lease
  • They are not required to expand or upgrade the current waste disposal system that has been in place since 1914 and designed to produce a fraction of the fish.
  • This farm is located just above the “Holy Waters” section of the Au Sable. Which means this trout fishing mecca, that people travel the world to experience, is directly in the cross-hairs, and will without a doubt suffer a tremendous hit to water quality.
  • There are other state ran hatcheries that have been required to invest tons of tax payer money (rightly so) to upgrade their systems to create little to no harmful discharge. For some reason however this private company is not being held to the same standard.
  • This is being looked at as a gateway case by the state, its agriculture agencies, and Harrieta Hills to open up our great waters to more large scale aquaculture business that could further hurt our delicate ecosystems.

Another interesting article shows a similar situation that occurred in Pennsylvania on the once famed Big Spring Creek. A private farm was established just below the rivers headwaters. Within a few years the wild brook trout population below the farm had been mostly destroyed. But the fishing above the farm remained strong. After the farm was shut down, the state opened a large farm at the headwaters, quickly destroying the remaining trout population. An frighteningly similar situation. A once world renowned trout stream that brought tourists from around the globe was destroyed. The article below shows the research to the problem, and also explains that once the farm was shut down the river has experienced a rebound in local resident trout.

A Case Study: Big Spring Creek, PA

Whats being done to save the Au Sable River?

We can thank and (Michigan Trout Unlimited) for stepping up to try to stop this from happening. They are currently in court trying to get the permits changed to a more Eco-friendly standard. Here is a quick article from Au Sable River Anglers giving a synopsis of the first week of hearings.

Fish Farm: First Week Summary

There are still significant hurdles to overcome. And we urge you to make a donation below to They have a fundraiser specifically for fighting this issue as well as general donations and memberships to help with other conservation concerns in our great state.


While I can understand the desire for government and private companies to expand and grow a new industry, I don’t know if they are weighing the importance of our existing tourist industry against the few people that would benefit from an operation such as this farm. Many of these small communities rely almost entirely on tourists that these fisheries draw in. And while some new jobs would be welcome, we will lose far more than we gain if we destroy this habitat.

Please donate to this cause here, and select “Hatchery Litigation Donation”

Thank you to Au Sable Anglers for setting up this donation program and fighting to save our waters!

Au Sable River Anglers


We are selling some apparel w/ the hashtag #TROUTLIVESMATTER. 50% of the proceeds to be donated to the Anglers of the Au Sable litigation fund.

Check out our store HERE – We have T-Shirts and Neck Gaiters and will be adding more soon!

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