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Hey guys, just thought I'd toss out a few quick words today before the deadline for comment on the "EA", (The draft environmental assessment for updating the comprehensive river management plan for the Pere Marquette National Scenic River.) but first I want to say a huge thank you to all the folks that showed up for the River Cleanup on Saturday. I had actually expected a very low turn out (Like five or six people.) compared to the usual thirty, forty or even fifty people on our better planed events, but was pleased to find our number around twenty!

A few of the cleanup crew, some more showed up after the photo...

We had at least one boat full of volunteers in every section of water all the way from M-37 to Walhalla and each of them managed at least a couple of large bags of trash if not more! A huge success no mater how you look at it. The after party at my place was a blast as usual and John did a great job of cooking up some awesome grub! You all made a big difference that day and I want to thank you on behalf of BBT, The river itself and every other user of the resource. I'll try and set a fall date with allot more notice this time and am already looking forward to a big turn out... Thanks again guys!

Now, the deadline for comment on the "EA" is fast approaching (June 6th.) so I want to once again share with you here a link to the cover letter, a link to the document, an e-mail link to make comment (Put "Comments on Pere Marquette EA" on the subject line.) and a copy of the letter I myself will be submitting today:

June 4, 2007

Les Russell, District Ranger
PO Box Drawer D
Baldwin, MI 49304


Please consider this letter my "official" comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for updating the comprehensive river management plan (CRMP) for the Pere Marquette National Scenic River.

After having reviewed the entire document my overall outlook is good in that I agree with "most" of alternative 2, the proposed action. There are only two points that I believe should be reviewed and given further consideration for the reasons listed below. I hope you will take them into consideration...

Issue #1 from Alternative 2, the proposed Action:

"Developed access sites, except designated campsites, would be closed from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. during the fall season. No parking, launching, or boat retrieval would be allowed during these hours."

Quite simply I believe that this is management by closure and goes a long way toward "privatizing" the river. By taking this action you make it almost impossible for the general public to fish during those hours (Something that is not only quite legal, but also quite productive.) and you are telling people in so many words that if you stay in our campsites you are allowed to fish or if you happen to have private access you are allowed to as well.

I find this to be very prejudicial toward non-property owners and others that simply wish to access "their" river. In short, I feel that overnight closure of access points would be severely detrimental to many anglers’ successful fishing trips. Nighttime activities that are unacceptable should be dealt with using Law Enforcement measures and legitimate anglers should not be penalized due to others behavior.

Fall night fishing for large resident Brown Trout is an angling experience that cannot be duplicated during the daylight hours as well as the know fact that salmon do tend to actually strike a lure or fly much better in low to no light conditions when they are not as pressured or spooked.

If it were not for the fact that it does not fit in with most of my own clients schedules I would most certainly fish only at night during the fall myself.

Issue #2 from Alternative 2, the proposed Action:

"Overcrowding, safety, and maintenance concerns at Gleason's Landing in the spring and fall are addressed by removing the boat slide and requiring the use of Bowman Bridge access for retrieving and launching boats. Bowman Bridge has adequate, existing parking for all trailered vehicles and a large launch area that is underutilized. It is approximately 45 minutes downstream from Gleason's Landing via drift boat. This would allow Gleason's Landing to be used by wading anglers at the end of the "flies only" section. Gleason’s Landing would continue to be used as a canoe launch in the summer, which was the original intent of this river access site."

I hardly know where to start here... There are so many reasons that this part of the alternative should be reconsidered and revised to a back in boat launch at Gleason's in my mind as well as others that it would take quite some time to list them all and the full reasons for them, but here are just a few in short bullet points...

· The major rule change in fishing regulations that takes place at that site.

You are actually not even allowed to possess bait or scent in the fly water by law so how is a guy that wants to bait fish from Gleason's to Bowman's out of a boat supposed to do it? Stage yet another vehicle with the bait in it at Gleason's so that they can row thru water they don't want to fish to get at it? This part has more nightmare scenarios from a law enforcement standpoint than I can list and would actually encourage the law breaking...

· Safety concerns both at Green Cottage and Gleason's.

By eliminating Gleason's as a relatively easy access point for boats you will most certainly encourage more use at Green Cottage as both a put in and a take out. This facility does not have a good safe staging area and with the increased traffic trying to both put in and take out there will most certainly be damage to boats in this fast corner of the river and quite possibly damage to people.

In addition I would also anticipate injuries from folks trying to "carry out" their larger boats at Gleason's since that would still be legal and more desirable to many boaters/fishermen rather than and extra hour + float (Not the 45 minutes stated in a full drift boat.) thru mostly unproductive water.

· Eliminating the Boat take out at Gleason's would not reduce traffic thru the area.

Because of the desirability of the water above Gleason's, (Something that should be clearly evident by the use now even on a "boat slide" that is not only dangerous, but also takes out chunks of boats on a regular basis.) it would only serve to increase the area of river that boaters would need to use and take away from the under crowded scenic value that the area from Gleason's to Bowman's currently is to "recreational" users.

· Overcrowding at Gleason's is already addressed.

Assuming that the rest of the action is followed thru with the problem of overcrowding at Gleason's should take care of itself by way of boaters now utilizing the much more friendly lower reaches of the river and extra parking should not be needed. In other words, by re-opening a launch site at Lower Branch Bridge and increasing parking at Rainbow Rapids you will now have some very good viable alternatives to floating only the fly water.

Re-opening Lower Branch alone opens up several more stretches of river that can be fished without having 12 or 13 hours to do so and people will take advantage of that reducing the boating pressure upstream. I know for a fact that I am only one of many who will begin to move around more with the advent of better facilities down river and the goal of spreading the pressure more evenly will be accomplished.

· Allowing a back in boat launch addresses safety, maintenance and another part of the overcrowding concerns.

In addition to the pressure being spread out reducing the overcrowding at Gleason's for the reasons cited above a back in boat launch at the site would address all current safety concerns while also reducing congestion at the site by expediting the process of boat launch and retrieval.

Because of the fact that the actual launch site is completely stagnate water and an excellent staging area there would be no erosion concerns to deal with at all like in many other sites where a strong current is present. Once a back in site is established it should require virtually no maintenance in comparison to other sites for this reason...

In closing I feel that if anything recreational canoes, kayaks and rafts should be encouraged to use the area around Bowman’s more so than fishing boats in order to better utilize that facility. This should be done by way of promoting it as an area that is very wild and scenic as well as a less traveled area in general and not by closure at Gleason's to said craft.


Steven R. Fraley (Contact info on file.)

USFS & DNR Licensed Pere Marquette River guide
President, Baldwin Bait & Tackle Inc.
Board Member, Pere Marquette Watershed Council
Treasurer, Michigan River Guides Association

Now, having read my letter please keep in mind that these are just the issues as I and many others see them. It doesn't really matter to me if you good folks out there reading this agree with me/us or not, but I do feel it's important to voice your opinion while your voice can still be heard and I can always hope that what I've said above makes as much sense to you as it does to us...

In other news the river report remains about the same and very good! I do need to cut this off now and leave it at that but I also want to post my guide openings first. As it stands I "currently" have both Tomorrow and the next day open, (June 5th & 6th) next Monday and Tuesday, (The 11th & 12th) the next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after that (Probably good hexes by then! The 19th, 20th & 21st) then I have Sunday the 24th and after that Friday the 29th thru July 4th is open before we head out to Alaska... John has a good number of openings as well and we love to do the group trips!

Tight lines all,

Woods and Water Rat
20,691 Posts
Used to fish the PM a lot. Beautiful river for sure.
But bags of trash?! Wow, that is a shame. I applaud you folks for your efforts. That is great that you take the time to do this. I don't fish it much anymore but feel obliged to offer a THANK YOU!
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