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E-M:/ Judge Blocks pre-drilling work near Au Sable River

Friends -- this is a BIG victory in the fight to protect the Mason Tract and the South Branch Area on the Huron Manistee National Forest!  AW


For immediate release                                                   Contact:  Rusty Gates 989-348-8462

December 7, 2005                                                                   Anne Woiwode or Marvin Roberson



Judge blocks pre-drilling work near Au Sable River


Michigan anglers celebrated a victory today, when a federal judge halted plans by oil and gas companies to bulldoze Forest Service land near the Au Sable River in preparation for drilling. A federal court judge in Bay City issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in response to an emergency motion from the Anglers of the Au Sable, the Sierra Club and Tim Mason.


“The courts are showing what Michigan anglers have known all along: that the Au Sable River is one of the most special places in our state, and shouldn’t be hastily destroyed,” said Rusty Gates, President of the Anglers of the Au Sable. “Not only is the Au Sable a world-class trout stream, it’s part of our heritage that we want to pass on to our children.”


“Fishing and oil just don’t go together, period. What about that is so hard for the Forest Service and Savoy Energy to understand?” added Alan Diodore of Grayling.


The groups argued successfully that the courts need to hear all the facts before companies can rush forward with oil and gas drilling at this site.  Experts for the conservation organizations spelled out the damage to hunters, anglers and other recreational users of the area, and the likelihood that the proposed bulldozing would set back old growth conditions on the site 150 to 500 years, causing irreparable harm.  


The lawsuit was brought after the federal agencies failed to consider viable alternate sites for Savoy to use to access the oil and gas rights they have leased under the Mason Tract.  The Forest Service approved the permit despite the largest outpouring of opposition in the history of the Huron Manistee National Forest to any proposed project.  Motion for a preliminary injunction

requested by the conservation organizations were filed today as well. 


The two experts for the Anglers and the Sierra Club were Charlie Guenther, former head of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division, and Dr. Burton V. Barnes, emeritus professor with the University of Michigan.  “Scientific experts have shown how critical this area is to our environment,” said Marvin Roberson of the Sierra Club. “But the biggest experts of all are the generations of hunters, anglers, hikers and others who have been coming here for generations—and we are speaking out to say no to drilling.”







Anne Woiwode, State Director

Sierra Club Mackinac (Michigan) Chapter

109 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906

517-484-2372   fax 517-484-3108

Enjoy, Explore and Protect -  www.michigan.sierraclub.org


"We know what to do. We have everything we need save the political will - which is, after all, a renewable resource. This is the time. This our moral moment and [I am confident] we will rise to the occasion." Former Vice President Albert Gore, at the Sierra Club Summit, September 2005