7 Activities to Enjoy this Spring at Consumers Energy River Hydros Sites' 12,000 Acres Offer Variety of Outdoor Pursuits
In the heart of the morel capital of Michigan, the land owned by Consumers Energy around Hodenpyl Dam near Mesick is open for those looking to harvest the tasty mushrooms that appear in Michigan only in the spring.
"Our hydro properties offer an abundance of recreational opportunities in the spring," said Rich Castle, Consumers Energy's natural resource administrator for hydro operations. "The areas with about 12,000 acres open to the public are in some of Michigan's most scenic natural areas along our properties on the Muskegon, Au Sable, Kalamazoo, and Manistee rivers."
A brochure titled Get Closer to Nature has recently been updated and provides details about year-round recreational activities at these sites. It's available free from Consumers Energy at: www.consumersenergy.com/hydro.
Here are 7 suggestions for the outdoor-minded recreationalist this spring.
- Camping - Stay close to the morel hunting, fishing, other activities, or just enjoy the camping experience. There are more than 2,800 campsites associated with the Hodenpyl, Tippy, Foote, Alcona, Mio and Hardy dams. Camping is allowed only in designated camping areas.
- Steelhead Fishing - Steelhead have been in the rivers all winter waiting for spring to spawn. The chrome colored fish can stack up downstream of Tippy, Foote, Croton and Calkins Bridge dams, which are very popular with anglers especially on weekends. A fishing license and courtesy toward fellow anglers required.
- Hiking -A nature trail paralleling the Muskegon River at Hardy Dam provides the opportunity for a 3-mile hike, where 26 tree species are identified with plaques. Endangered Karner blue butterflies may be spotted in habitat managed for them at sites at Hardy and Croton dams. More ambitious hikers may cross a suspension footbridge downstream of Hodenpyl Dam for a 20-mile trek where the North Country National Scenic Trail connects to the Manistee River trail.
- Birding - Bald eagles, numerous waterfowl, and other species of interest to birders such as pileated woodpeckers call Consumers Energy hydro property home. Loud and Cooke ponds on the Au Sable River offer the best chances to view rare, native trumpeter swans Consumers Energy re-established in the late 1990s. Two Foote Dam locations - Footesite and Foote Tailwater - provide birding stops along the Sunrise Coast Birding Trail.
- Canoeing - There are quality paddling opportunities on all rivers that have Consumers Energy river hydros. Aficionados favor the 23-mile stretch between Mio Dam to Alcona Pond on the Au Sable River, a designated National Scenic River. The stretch is incorporated each July in canoeing's premiere international racing event, the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon. The use of life jackets is recommended.
- Turkey Hunting - Properly licensed hunters are welcome to try to call in a bearded turkey on more than 12,000 acres open to sportsmen and sportswomen along the Muskegon, Au Sable and Manistee rivers. Hunters should exercise caution in areas near Consumers Energy's hydro facilities.
- Morel Mushroom Picking -Hodenpyl Dam near Mesick, the "morel capital of Michigan," is a popular area for keen-eyed mushroom hunters. The tasty fungi can also be found at other dam properties by those who know which habitats to explore. Do not pick or consume any mushroom without being certain it is safe.
Consumers Energy's 13 hydroelectric projects are licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; recreational facilities at these sites are open to the public without discrimination. Please follow safety signage and be aware of surroundings at these locations.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.