Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Mr. Outdoors
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Mr. Outdoors

The Owner/Operator of The River, 231 Outfitters Markets the Active Northern Life

Karen Stein - May 26th, 2014  


Mike Sutherland has loved the outdoors all his life, and now he’s found a way to live it – and live off it.

Sutherland began in 2010 with The River, a hub for renting kayaks, stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), tubes, and bikes at Clinch Park, Traverse City’s busiest beach. He took his idea to the City of Traverse City, and a three-year contract was signed; Sutherland’s River would serve as a rental hub for tourists and locals looking to get on the water, and the city would get a cut of the revenue.

The River became a destination, but the summer of 2013 also brought delays due to reconstruction at Clinch Park. Sutherland opened weeks late, just one day before the National Cherry Festival’s kickoff—and still enjoyed a record-setting season.

Now headed into its fifth year, Sutherland said he is “expecting 2014 to be a really sweet summer,” given a fixed children’s splash pad area and the new Bijou by the Bay movie theatre, both expected to attract more energy and more people to Clinch Park.

But what really has the northern Michigan native’s attention this year is a major expansion, one that will take him beyond just rentals and will take his operations beyond just the beach.

OUTFITTING EVERYTHING IN 231

Sutherland’s new idea is 231 Outfitters, an 8,000 square foot retail shop along Grandview Parkway across from the Open Space and in the heart of foot and car traffic. 231 Outfitters will complement The River, and will be what Sutherland calls “a consortium of outdoor guides, instructors, and captains working under one roof.” It’s a plan to take advantage of the rapid growth in active outdoor sports and ecotourism. 231 Outfitters will feature “the four Rs”: rental, retail, resale, and repair.

Want to skydive? Just ask. Interested in a day charter fishing on Grand Traverse Bay? Want to try a standup paddleboard or a wave runner? Thinking about trading in your bike for a new one? Sutherland has joined with more than a dozen partners who will either provide product or rentals through 231 Outfitters. He says the spot will be among the first locally to offer onsite ding and hole repairs.

GUIDED TOURS

Another foray will be a slate of ecotourism offerings. “The River is gearing itself toward making natural resources more accessible without depleting them,” Sutherland said.

Led by director Tree Sturman, formerly of the Grand Traverse Conservation District, ecotours will be guided activities showcasing the places and activities of northern Michigan. Among the items the group is working on are a float from the bay to the Boardman River, a ride on the TART trails, a tour of Power Island, and more. Tours will begin downtown or in an outlying area, and will vary from a few hours to a full day. Sturman said “every tour focuses on celebrating all that is good in the TC area.”

“My passion is for getting people outside and giving back to the outdoors,” he added. “I want to help people give back and appreciate the outdoors because without the beautiful lakes and rolling hills and rivers, there is no Traverse City.”

A CONSORTIUM FOR ACTIVITIES

Sutherland has also collaborated with Red8 Boatworks, a watercraft-building program for at-risk youth. Overseen by Captain Rorke Miller, recent winner of the prestigious Maritime Heroes Award, a new program will allow teens to build Kaholo 14 SUPs—the “perfect project” for youth, said Miller — and will be trained to eventually guide river ecotours and help with the rental service.

The consortium at 231 Outfitters will also include Mark Ringlever, who plans to introduce an alternative form of fly fishing that he’s offered in the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and Central America. Ringlever described this brand of shallow-water fly fishing as extremely difficult but likely to catch on locally. “People come to the state for fly fishing, which is a niche sport,” he said. “This new, fresh approach to carp and bass fishing requires a specialized skiff that will be operating out of 231 Outfitters. This type of fly fishing has been a growing trend out west, and it’s perfect for people who want alternatives to river fishing.”

Troy Daily’s TC Cycle Pub is another new partner. The original cycle pub – which puts pedalers on a sort of bike/trolley -- will remain at The Filling Station across town, but a second cycle pub will be housed at 231 Outfitters. This version will focus on the Ale Trail, a collection of nine local breweries featured in a passport that culminates in a commemorative pint glass after receiving stamps at each venue. After Daily’s Paddles for Pints kayaking events (using Sutherland’s kayaks) last August sold out quickly, he said teaming up with Sutherland via 231 Outfitters was a natural fit. “The outdoor adventures that [Mike’s businesses offer] really works well with what I’m doing with the breweries,” Daily said.

FOR LOCALS, TOO

Though he’s positioned for the tourist crowds and interests, Sutherland said he’s just as committed to appeal to the local market. He said many of his events and programs are built to remind locals to take advantage of the natural beauty of the area, including Power Island and the Boardman River, which The River’s website calls “the life blood, the main artery, the miracle of a watershed, so life giving and necessary.”

To learn more about 231 Outfitters and The River, visit http://therivertraversecity.com/.

 
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