Hart Ford
Hart Ford
HomeNewsLocal governments, conservation groups oppose massive Camp Grayling expansion

Local governments, conservation groups oppose massive Camp Grayling expansion

More than 15 local governments, major environment/outdoors groups ask state to reject plan

Note: This story includes some of the statements yesterday from a press conference held about the proposed expansion.

GRAYLING – Opposition continues to grow against a Michigan National Guard proposal taking an additional 260 squares miles state land for its Camp Grayling training facility, limiting access to the state land by civilians and potentially impacting wildlife in ways that will hurt residents, businesses and the local economy.

During a virtual news conference today, opponents pointed to resolutions of opposition from Kalkaska County, 15 townships in Kalkaska, Crawford, Montmorency and Roscommon counties, and the state’s largest environmental and conservation organizations, including Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited and Anglers of the Au Sable, as reasons for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Natural Resources to reject the guard’s land grab.


“All of us support the mission of our military,” said Bear Lake Township Trustee Jim Knight, whose township in Kalkaska County has passed a resolution of opposition. “But enough is enough. This is already the largest Guard base in the nation. The Guard leadership has not justified the need to add this much acreage just to prepare for electromagnetic warfare. And Guard leaders have indicated to reporters that they may well sublet this public property to private companies, which is simply unacceptable.”


Knight noted that the Guard has developed an unfortunate reputation for failing to live up to existing agreements with the state intended to allow training but limit impact on residents and users of the public property. Recent photos show the Guard training in the Manistee River despite agreements not to use the river itself, the Guard’s failure to clean up the PFAS water contamination that has closed sections of Lake Margarethe in recent years and damaged local drinking water, failure to live up to quiet periods in the major artillery and heavy weapon training, unrepaired damage to local roads and more.


“The trust factor is low. And the Guard has failed to explain how this expansion is necessary. The state should drop this ill-considered proposal and focus on using existing Camp Grayling facilities better and within previous agreements,” Knight said.


Amy Trotter, executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said MUCC – with 40,000 members – was the first conservation organization to announce its official opposition to the expansion. The organization passed a 1989 resolution opposing the expansion of Camp Grayling except during a national emergency, as declared by the President or Congress.


“To date, there has been no such declaration by either,” Trotter said.  “Beyond that, MUCC believes the National Guard has failed to properly justify the need for an expansion of this size. The DNR has a statutory obligation to keep hunting lands open to hunting.“


Allowing training on and closing of public lands for expanded military training is not within the mission of the DNR or what MUCC will support, she continued.


“The militarization of our public land is not something to be taken lightly, and Michigan residents should not have to shoulder the burden for the country’s national security unless a valid and pertinent reason is proven to exist,” Trotter said. “To date, that reason has not been enunciated.”

This print by Grayling Artist Kim Diment was donated for auction to the Anglers of the AuSable. Diment owns Main Branch Gallery in downtown Grayling.

Monty Bolis, a Frederick Township resident who has been active in the Camp Grayling expansion opposition group (which includes a very active Facebook community), said the expansion will benefit private industry, which will pay nothing for access to state property.


“At 147,000 acres Camp Grayling is currently and overwhelmingly the largest National Guard training center in the U.S. This is not a matter of Camp Grayling being undersized or needing additional public land for training purposes. Camp Grayling is asking for the additional 162,000 acres to turn Northern Michigan into a testing zone where for-profit companies can come to test and develop new weapons that have no safety history.


“If the DNR grants what will be a no-charge lease to Camp Grayling, our public land will be rented or subleased by the military to private industry to test and develop their weapons in our northern Michigan backyards and over our heads. at no cost. It’s a vulgar scheme, really,” Bolis said. “This has nothing to do with patriotism. No state reveres and has supported the National Guard more than Michigan. No state has sacrificed more of its public land to the National Guard than Michigan. I have every confidence the DNR will recognize this scheme and reject Camp Grayling’s request.”


Joe Hemming, president of Anglers of the Au Sable which has long protected the Au Sable and upper Manistee rivers from damaging activities sanctioned by the state including oil drilling, fracking and the ill-considered commercial fish hatchery on the Au Sable, said expanding Camp Grayling would impact two of the state’s greatest trout fishing rivers.


“Man has a long history of damaging our great rivers by taking action without thinking through the consequences,” Hemming said. “Whether it’s been running logs down the river, gouging it and creating erosion, overfishing, damming the river, or using it as a sewer for communities or fish farms, the track record is not good.


“Now comes a proposal for electromagnetic warfare training without any consideration of impact on wildlife. We know noise, light and other sensory changes that have limited impact on humans can have huge impacts on fish, mammals, insects and even trees. We can’t allow massive expansion of this camp into more vital river headwaters and wetlands and testing of electromagnetic warfare without more research into how that may impact humans and wildlife,” Hemming said.


For additional background on why opposition is growing, visit Anglers of the AuSable.


Leave a Comment


UpNorthVoice.com is Northern Michigan's source for community news.

We cover seven counties including Crawford, Roscommon, Oscoda, Ogemaw, Iosco, Arenac and Montmorency counties in print and / or online.

We are also a full-service commercial design and printing house. Our specialty is custom commercial printing, as well as the creation of clothing, cups and other marketing products.

To submit information for publication, or for questions regarding promotion of your business through web or print, as well as promotional items such as hats or cups, please email info@UpNorthVoice.com, or call 989-275-1170.

- Advertisement -
Northern Fun Wheels electric bike sales
- Advertisement -
COOR ISD Free College Credits
- Advertisement -
Fick and Sons
- Advertisement -
Firehouse Restaurant