Save the Holy Waters-

From Anglers of the Au Sable:

We need your help to protect the Holy Waters

Once again, the Au Sable is under threat of new oil and gas drilling.

In October, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources auctioned nearly 2,800 acres in and near the Au Sable Holy Waters corridor (between the Whirlpool and Thendara) for potential oil and gas development. Most leases were purchased by Encana, the Canadian company which is using massive amounts of water for deep-fracking wells in the Manistee River basin. A number of these proposed leases could allow surface wells, pumping stations, and pipelines.

There’s one more opportunity to stop this. A few minutes of your time could really help.
While the auction is complete, the final decision on whether or not to finalize the leases will come on December 12. Before that comes to pass, please let DNR Director Keith Creagh know that you support leaving the Holy Waters undeveloped.

Personalized letters are best. Form letters are not helpful.

You can write to: DNR Director Keith Creagh
Executive Division
PO Box 30028
Lansing, MI 48909.

Or you can send an email to Please do not call on the telephone as this will simply overwhelm and alienate DNR staff. 

Anglers of the Au Sable is helping coordinate this campaign. If you copy on your communication to Director Creagh, Anglers will hand-deliver all comments to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission on December 12 where the final decision on the leases will be made.

Please be polite but direct. Tell the DNR:

You are opposed to any drilling near the Holy Waters.
You believe this piece of river to be a special place, worthy of special protections.
You will be watching closely on December 12 to see if the DNR will protect the Holy Waters.

A growing chorus is asking DNR Director Creagh to cancel the auction of these parcels, including Michigan Trout Unlimited (and its Mason-Griffith and Headwaters Chapters), the Great Lakes Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers, Au Sable Big Water Preservation Association, North Branch Foundation, Au Sable Watershed Restoration Committee, Au Sable Property Owners Association, the Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.

Make your voice heard. Protect the Holy Waters.





said on Friday, December 6th, 2013
DNR Director Keith Creagh,
My name is Doug Erdmann and I am the president of the Marinette County Chapter of Trout Unlimited which is located in northeast Wisconsin. In May of 2011 I had the opportunity to visit the Ausable River and fish the "Holy Waters". It was an honor to stand on the banks of the river where Trout Unlimited was founded. I saw some beautiful country and caught some nice trout while I was there. I enjoyed my trip so much, that I was planning on coming back in May 2014 for the hendricksons and August 2014 for the tricos. That is until I had heard that the Michigan DNR auctioned off 2800 acres of land on the banks of the Ausable for oil and gas development.
I checked your DNR website to see if your mission statement had changed. It has not. It reads, "The Michigan Department of natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, managment, use and enjoyment of the state natural and cultural resources for the current and future generations". It seems that the DNR is favoring "use" at the expense of conservation, protection, management and enjoyment for current and future generations.
I will not make the six hour drive to the Ausable River so that I can observe pumping stations, pipelines and wells.
Quoting Rusty Gates's book, Seasons on the AuSable, pg. 34 "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment"- by Ansel Adams. Mr. Creagh, do the right thing and protect this area for future generations.
Thank you.
Doug Erdmann
2418 Woodview Lane
Marinette, WI 54143
said on Thursday, December 19th, 2013

DNR Director Creagh Joins Anglers in saying “No Surface

Development” On Holy Water

After meeting with Anglers President Bruce Pegler and First Vice President Tom

Baird and receiving hundreds of emails from concerned anglers and lovers of the

Au Sable from around the state, DNR Director Keith Creagh has decided there

will be no oil and gas exploration along the “holy waters” corridor anytime soon.

The announcement came at a Dec. 12 meeting of the Natural Resources

Commission. Anglers of the AuSable thanks Director Creagh for reversing the

department’s initial plan to allow development in several parcels near the river,

and changing them to “non-development” status. Not only have the leases been

set as “non-development,” the director is modifying them to remove language

allowing reclassification of surface use without public notice and a new lease


Anglers, our fellow fishing and environmental friends, local businesses plus

hundreds of concerned citizens can finally exhale, for now.

“Michigan has special places that deserve careful attention and thoughtful

protection,” Creagh said. “The Au Sable River is one of those places. A

nondevelopment lease lets us protect an area’s valuable surface features. This,

in turn, protects Michigan citizens against the loss of revenue if publicly owned

minerals are removed without a lease in place.”

In late October, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources auctioned nearly

2,800 acres east of Grayling for potential oil and gas development, much of it

smack in the middle of one of the world’s most beloved trout streams. We urged

the DNR not to do this. The Department did it anyway.

At the December 12 NRC Meeting, DNR Director Keith Creagh announced he


Not enter the leases as originally auctioned.

Modify the affected leases along the Holy Water to “non-development”


Further tighten the leases to specifically prohibit any reclassification for the

full five-year lease period. Any such reclassification, if requested by the oil

and gas lease holders, would require public notice and a new auction –

which Anglers would naturally oppose.

Pledged, based on this recent controversy, to assign a DNR taskforce,

with stakeholder input including Anglers representatives, to identify

“special places” akin to the Holy Waters, where mineral leases and future

oil and gas development will be off-limits in the future.

This is a huge win for Anglers of the Au Sable,” president Bruce Pregler said.

“Only through intense yet rational public input from hundreds of Anglers

members and our friends in the conservation community were we able to

convince the DNR to make this change. In fact, during the meeting today the

director said he was getting an email every four minutes.”

“Thanks to all who took the time to explain to the DNR why the Au Sable is so

special and why there was no way any of us would stand by while land was

cleared for oil and gas wells in the Holy Water,” Pregler said.

Baird also said special thanks go to DNR Director Creagh. “Keith really listened

to us,” Baird said. “It took guts to make this change – and vision to pledge to

identify other special places where these kinds of controversies should be

avoided in the future.”

When the lease news broke in October, Anglers went to work. The proposed

leasing plan did not bode well for current or future residents of this historic stretch

of the Au Sable. We asked again that the DNR reconsider the action. The

Department initially declined our request.

That meant it was time to roll up our sleeves and do the heavy lifting necessary

to help Director Creagh better understand these issues. This was nothing new

for us, and we quickly were joined by our usual allies: the Michigan

Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Au

Sable Big Water Preservation Association, North Branch Foundation, Au Sable

River Watershed Committee, and Michigan Trout Unlimited. Several local

business and government leaders assisted in this effort at well. We had not seen

that spirit here since the dark days of the Mason Tract crisis.

Given the short time window and enormity of the task it was an extraordinary

show of solidarity by all. We are grateful for the support.

In the final analysis Director Creagh made the right decision. The “Holy Water” is

safe for now thanks to Creagh’s willingness to listen.

More work needs to be done to responsibly obtain these resources, but this is a

victory worth savoring. Thank you to all who helped us to secure it.

- Bruce Pregler, President and Tom Baird, First Vice President


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