- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Tim Mason, the grandson of 1940s auto industrialist George W. Mason, sounds the alarm about one of the nation’s grandest trout rivers, the wonderful Au Sable in Michigan, being seriously threatened. Guess who’s the culprit? Our own government.

“There is a travesty under way in the Grayling, Michigan, area on one of the few pristine places left for sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts,” writes Mason. “The assault is on the Mason Tract of the Au Sable, [which offers] some of the finest fly fishing in the world.”

Mason provides background:

“My grandfather was an avid outdoorsman. He had the foresight to donate to the state of Michigan six miles of this stream encompassing some 1,500 acres of land with the stipulation that it not be developed and that it remain in its natural state for people to enjoy. Sportsman and family recreation are the benefactors of the grant, as is the tourism industry in northern Michigan.

“The State of Michigan had the responsibility to protect this gift, and it increased the amount of protected land by adding an additional 1,300 acres to this area. On the original grant, an open air chapel was erected in my grandfather’s memory as a way for people to take a moment to reflect on the silence, the comforting sounds of the river and the indigenous wildlife, as well as the beauty of the area.”

But along came the federal government (which owns the adjoining lands), and it sold mineral rights on some of its property that involves the Savoy Energy Co. The company has submitted a plan for test drilling at an angle that will be within mere feet of the Mason Tract.

“The drilling [and subsequent sounds of diesel engines running] will result in the loss of the intent of the grant. Clearly, there are associated risk factors with any drilling in terms of pollution,” says Mason.

Meanwhile, his complaints are not being heard by the federal or local governments. Most of the opposition to the drilling has come from sportsmen in the state and from some trout anglers, but that’s about it.

“With your help, maybe, just maybe, this little postage stamp of solitude can be protected,” writes Mason.

What a pity. Must everything in our lives center around the almighty dollar?

By the way, the Internet’s Google search engine has a number of reference sites under Mason Tract.

About that nasty algae — DNR field crews and citizens have been reporting patches of blue-green algae in the Chesapeake Bay’s waters from Sandy Point State Park south to Thomas Point lighthouse. The distribution of bloom levels of blue-green algae has expanded farther south this year because of unusually high amounts of fresh water in the upper Chesapeake.

With exceptional rain and runoff, record low salinities are being observed in the vicinity of the Bay Bridge this month. It creates something known as microcystis, an insidious algae that survives best in fresh- and low-salinity water.

People should take precautions to reduce the risk of illness or discomfort related to blue-green algal blooms. Do not swim in areas where a blue-green algae bloom is evident. Do not drink water from any area with the appearance of a blue-green algae bloom. If contact is made with such water, simply wash off with fresh water. In some cases, skin irritations can occur after prolonged contact.

Happily, the bloom seems to have dissipated now, but to learn more about microcystis, visit the DNR’s Web site at www.dnr.state.md.us/bay/hab/microcystis.

New magazine for hunters — From the Safari Club International organization comes Hunt Forever, SCI’s new bimonthly hunter advocacy magazine in blazing color that is now being delivered to 250,000 hunter/members.

Each Hunt Forever issue offers stories on hunter-related legislation and litigation at every government level, hunting tips, updates on firearms and equipment, reports on the actions of anti-hunters, wildlife conservation initiatives, and other topics to galvanize hunters in protecting the freedom to hunt.

You can get Hunt Forever at Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Turner’s Outdoorsman, Jay’s Sporting Goods, Keystone Country Store and Kinsey’s Outdoors stores. Subscriptions are available by calling 888/724-4868.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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