Robber barons or benefactors? A Battle over Public Access on Michigan’s Salmon Trout River

U.S history is rife with stories about robber barons of one sort or another – lumber barons, auto magnates, oil tycoons – you name it.

Those stories, popular as they are, often portray those barons of commerce as greedy, self-serving and loving a lavish lifestyle – exclusive, private clubs notwithstanding.

But Michigan natural resource history also includes many stories about industry magnates who made things better for the public through their efforts.  They may have donated large tracts of land for public use or for species protection,  provided necessary funding for  conservation initiatives, and/or had the political muscle to move it forward.

Now, here’s a story about  the well-heeled private Upper Peninsula club called the Huron-Mountain Club. It has a long history of exclusivity. And it is attempting to restrict public access to the Salmon Trout River. Michigan law specifies that any navigable stream is open to the public.  The club claims it is restricting access to protect the resident coaster brook trout.

Is this a selfless act for the greater good of a rare resource of special interest to the state?

I suspect not, but you can decide  Tony Hansen, gets at the historical details of this tug-o-war between the well-heeled and Joe-regulars in an Outdoor Life blog posting. This is America, after all.

Read more: Lawyers, Trout, and Money

About Howard Meyerson

After more than 30 years in the outdoor writing business, you would think I'd know better.
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2 Responses to Robber barons or benefactors? A Battle over Public Access on Michigan’s Salmon Trout River

  1. robbin muha says:

    sounds like more bs. if you want to fish it ,go! enter the water and stay in it. i don’t see how you can be tresspassing you are not on their land. i ‘m thinking about going myself ,just have to find out where it is located. frank


  2. Victor says:

    The river is a public natural resource, open to the entire public. While I agree that the HMC’s stated reason for wanting restricted access is a noble one (to protect a species of fish), the “how” to protect that species should be in the public’s control. Harmful or not, stupid or smart, the public has the right to collectively decide on how, or how not, to take action.


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