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Officials Look Into Harassment Claims By Fishermen

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MARQUETTE (AP) – Officials in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are looking into claims that armed security guards working for a private hunting and fishing enclave have been harassing people fishing on public waters.

The Marquette County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to have the county sheriff, prosecutor and a road official at a Feb. 7 meeting to discuss complaints about the Huron Mountain Club, The Mining Journal of Marquette reported.

“It’s embarrassing to hear what’s been going on up there,” Commissioner Jim Cihak said.

Public access to the Salmon Trout River near Big Bay is only available from the mouth of the waterway or at a bridge along a county road. The river is a tributary of Lake Superior and spawning grounds for the rare coaster brook trout.

The Huron Mountain Club has attempted to keep the public off the water, arguing there is no public access available at the bridge. But rulings, including those from local and state officials have kept the access open.

A telephone listing for the club did not work Thursday. The Associated Press left a message with a lawyer who represented the club on a different issue, seeking information on whether the club has legal representation.

On Tuesday, Donn Collins of Negaunee, whose family owns property about 3 miles from the bridge, told the county board that guards hassled fishermen on the river, including twice when he went there in August.

“We were accosted by the guards on both occasions,” Collins said.

The first time in August, Collins said, the anglers were confronted by 4 or 5 armed security guards wearing Huron Mountain Club security patches, badges and uniforms.

Matthew Wiese, the county prosecutor, said the club had sought, but did not bring, criminal trespassing charges against Collins. The club’s position, Wiese said, is that there is no public access.

“It really was not clear in my mind we had any criminal trespass,” Wiese said. “It’s obvious to me Mr. Collins just wants to fish and is not intending to trespass.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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