(Michigan DNR Press Release) – The State of Michigan today announced a settlement with Golden Lotus, Inc. resolving a 2008 sediment release on the Pigeon River which killed thousands of fish.

Golden Lotus, Inc. owns Song of the Morning Ranch, located in Vanderbilt. The property includes a large reflecting pond created by the Lansing Club Dam, where a gate malfunction in June 2008 caused a rapid and large sediment release. The release killed numerous fish species, including brown and brook trout.

A lawsuit filed against Golden Lotus, Inc., by the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality, with Michigan Trout Unlimited and the Pigeon River Country Association serving as intervening plaintiffs, sought to recover lost public trust damages and to provide a mechanism to permanently fix problems with the dam.

The settlement reached today in Otsego County Circuit Court requires Golden Lotus, Inc. to work in coordination with the DNR and DEQ to permanently draw down the impoundment behind the Lansing Club Dam, prevent significant discharges in the future, and provide mitigation for the damages caused in 2008.

Golden Lotus was fined $120,000 in mitigation and damage costs, to be paid over eight years. The organization will pay an additional $30,000 if it fails to submit to the state a plan for additional river restoration within two years of the date of the settlement.

“I appreciate the good faith efforts made thus far by Golden Lotus and the organization’s demonstrated commitment to restoring the Pigeon River,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “This settlement represents a thoughtful resolution that will allow Golden Lotus to continue to operate while at the same time protecting and enhancing one of Michigan’s world-class natural resources for current and future generations.”

“We are pleased to see this long-standing litigation resolved,” said DEQ Director Dan Wyant. “The terms of this agreement are a win for Michigan’s environment, the ranch, and the thousands of people who enjoy the Pigeon River each year.”

The impoundment draw-down is scheduled to begin this spring and will be monitored closely to ensure water quality is protected. The draw-down and termination of all dam operations will return the river to its natural course and reduce the structure’s negative effects on downstream river reaches.

The draw-down is the first step to what all parties believe will be a more comprehensive river restoration project to come. The cooperative nature of this settlement will be a key ingredient to all future restoration activities.

We are now taking reservations for our annual membership outing at the Wa Wa Sum Lodge. The lodge is located on the banks of the Main Stream of the Au Sable’s fabled “holy waters,” just east of Grayling, Michigan.

Arrival is any time after noon on Thursday, June 19 with departure on Sunday, June 22. You may come for one, two or all three nights. This years nightly rate with be $50.00 for one night, $100.00 for two nights and $150.00 for three nights.

Please RSVP with Larry Risbridger by June 12. Larry can reached at elrisbridger@charter.net or by phone at 616.690.0692. Please give your name, which nights we can expect you, along with your phone number and email address. If you are attending for the first time and have any questions about the format of the weekend, please give Larry a call for details.

The annual membership meeting and election of officers and new board members will be held on Saturday morning, June 21 at 10:00 a.m. Non-board members are not required to attend, though are welcome to do so.

The Wa Wa Sum Lodge is an historic log building with a great porch over looking the Au Sable River. Sleeping arrangements are dorm style, so bring your own bedding or sleeping bag and towels.

We will be providing cold breakfast foods for Friday and Sunday mornings. Our only organized meal will be a large hot breakfast on Saturday morning. We will have other snacks and lunch items available for you to make meals to take to the stream. Please bring your own beverages. There are many restaurants located nearby in Grayling. There is a grill available for your use.

Mid June is traditionally a great time for some of the best hatches of the season. You can fish right in front of the lodge on the Au Sable or venture to other rivers including the North and South Branches of the Au Sable and the Manistee River. Wakely Lake is nearby for bass and bluegills. And there is a good chance that the famous Hex Hatch will be on.

More information on Wa Wa Sum (courtesy of MSU)

Wa Wa Sum is a Michigan State University research and conference facility located on the Au Sable River six miles east of Grayling.

The name Wa Wa Sum means “Plain View” in the Ojibwa language and was given to the camp in 1905 by Chief David Shoppenagon, an Au Sable guide and woodsman. At that time, because of the extensive logging of the region’s pine forests, the view from the high bank on which the camp is built was unobstructed for miles to the south. Since then, the forests have regenerated, slowly obscuring the view beyond the river.

Chief Shoppenagon built the first building at the camp, now known as the Dining Room, in 1880. In 1897, Rubin Babbit, an Au Sable woodsman who later becam Michigan’s first wildlife officer, built a second structure, now the Administration Building. These first buildings were constructed of red pine and tamarack logs and used as a fishing camp for a group of Toledo businessmen. Other cabins of various sizes were added in later years: the Bullpen (1907); the Big Camp (1921/22); the Barn and the Guide’s Cabin (early 1930s).

The buildings and 251 acres of land were deeded to MSU in 1980 by owners Virginia Secor Stranahan and Frank Bell, descendants of two of the camp’s six original owners. Kevin Gardiner, a descendant of Rubin Babbit, is the camp’s present caretaker. He is the third generation of his family to perform these duties.

admin on January 9th, 2014

The original and preeminent exhibition of fly fishing cinema, The F3T (Fly Fishing Film Tour) is a one-of-a-kind experience. Each year fishy folk of all ages gather at premieres to soak up films from around the world, spin a few yarns amongst friends and dream about casts still unmade. If you’ve been, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t, we hope to see you soon!

In addition to showcasing world-class fly fishing films, The F3T is dedicated to supporting the local fly shops and conservation groups that form the backbone of our sport’s educational and environmental efforts.  A portion of those ticket sales go directly to support fishing and habitat-related conservation groups. In 2013 the F3T raised $250,000 for conservation partners and have used its voice to bring greater attention and support to groups like Trout Unlimited, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Bonefish Tarpon Trust, Utah Stream Access Coalition and Stop Pebble Mine and many more.

Date: Friday, February 7, 2014
Location:  Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI
Doors open:  6:00 PM
Show time: 7:00 PM
Tickets: $13.00 in advance
Tickets available at: Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company, Nomad Anglers
Please note: Some language may be adult in nature. If you’ve been on a river, you’ve heard it!

In the lobby of the theater, Schrems TU will be selling a special limited edition F3T face shield as a fund-raiser. F3T generously donated these awesome face shields to the chapter and we will be selling them for one night only for the low, low price of $15. The entire purchase price goes to SWMTU for stream and river projects here in West Michigan. Be sure to get yours right away as there are limited quantities and we expect to sell out.

admin on January 9th, 2014

From Nomad Anglers, here’s are a couple event that may interest you … Fly Tying Instruction at Schomhz Brewery (2600 Patterson Ave SE,  Grand Rapids). Cost is $20. All materials provided.  Please bring your vise, tools and fly tying thread – 6/0 black & 100 g.s.p. Please contact the shop so they can get a head count if you’re interested in attending the class. (616-805-4393 or brian@nomadanglers.com)

January 14 (6-9pm) will feature Kevin Feenstra – Muskegon River Patterns
January 28 (6-9pm) will be the 2 for 1 – Ed McCoy & Jon Ray – Hawkins Fly Fishing Outfitters.

admin on January 9th, 2014

In mid-December nearly 100 people came out for a wonderful evening of family fun to our annual holiday party. In the photo gallery you can seen the fun on the kids faces as they drew pictures of fish and enjoyed their gifts from Santa.

We want to give a special shout-out to Ron Barch for supplying the kid-friendly fly tying kits that were given out. This was a very generous and meaningful gift to our future anglers.