Boating rules might work in the UP as well as downstate

Many us have had a pleasant afternoon or evening on a Michigan river — boating, fishing or just drifting with the current — ruined by the drunks in the next boat over. Regrettable as it might be, these uncaring people make it miserable for everyone, including campers, by being loud, rowdy or failing to leave the campsite clean and orderly.

Things got so bad on a trio of downstate rivers — the Au Sable, Manistee and Pine — that the U.S. Forest Service announced in February that it was banning alcohol this year on parts of the three rivers that run through the Huron-Manistee National Forests in the northern Lower Peninsula because of concerns about public safety and littering, according to the Detroit Free Press.

People weren’t especially happy about it and complained. Led by business owners, government leaders and outdoor enthusiasts, a campaign was started this week where locals and others are basically going to police themselves, not as vigilantes pretending to be sworn peace officers, but as concerned individuals who are trying to do the right thing.

“It’s just (about being) cognizant of your fellow citizens while enjoying the resources,” Jeffrey Dontz, a Manistee County commissioner and member of the group, told the Free Press. “Let’s not get intoxicated, let’s pick up after ourselves. It’s about being a good steward of the resources.”

The campaign includes posters with sayings like “Stay Sober Till Your Visit’s Over” and the distribution of mesh bags people can use to collect their trash.

This effort bears watching. We’ve heard complaints about similar poor conduct on Upper Peninsula rivers and other waterways. If it works to any significant degree downstate, why not try it up here?


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