It’s a rite of passage: grab some six packs, load up the car, and head up north for a weekend of tubing, canoeing, fishing, or kayaking. Pure Michigan. Only no one seems to have informed the USDA Forest Service of the crucial importance of the first part of the equation. On Feb. 6, 2019, the U.S. Forest Service issued a press release. Normally, that’s a yawner of a Wednesday morning. This release, though, announced a ban on alcohol use on or within 200 feet of the Au Sable, Manistee, and Pine Rivers through the Manistee National Forest. Penalties of up to $5,000 and six months in jail were threatened. Predictably, all hell broke loose. Within days, more than 50,000 people had signed an online petition. Business owners reported dozens of campground cancellations, and the move was seen as a serious threat to the tourism industry, not to mention individual freedoms. Craig Thompson, owner of Hinchman Canoe Livery on the Au Sable, says the news caught him and other community leaders by surprise. “It caught us off guard,” he says. “Basically it was done behind everyone’s backs.” But just a few days later, the Forest Service retracted the ban, promising a… Read full this story
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