AuSable Media and UpNorthVoice.com stand with the Northern Michigan community at large, local governments and conservation organizations opposed to the expansion of Camp Grayling.
The Camp currently encompasses 230 square miles of state land, primarily in Crawford County. The proposed expansion would allow the federal government to essentially seize, with the permission of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, an additional 250 square miles, more than doubling the size of the base.
Like most people in Northern Michigan, we support our military and its mission to protect our nation. As a veteran-owned company, we understand the need for constant training on new equipment, and the testing of new technology as the battlefield changes.
However, if the actions of the military at the former Wurtsmith National Guard base in Oscoda is any indication, giving the Michigan National Guard carte’ blanche over the extra property is a poor idea. In Oscoda, the military knew it was poisoning the groundwater, AuSable River and Van Ettan Lake with PFAS (forever chemical) for decades. They ravaged the natural environment to the point where wild game taken in marshland miles from the base have a “do not eat” advisory.
Their solution? Test wells. Under duress, remove groundwater and “clean” the PFAS out of it before releasing it back into the environment. And hand out bottled water to the people with wells that are contaminated. Much as the Michigan National Guard did when the PFAS issue became public in Grayling.
At one point, in the initial stages of the Grayling PFAS discussions, the federal government suggested just sinking a new municipal well, boring through the poisoned aquafer into the clean water below, potentially poisoning that natural resource in a half-hearted attempt to deal with a serious problem.
Is that the position of a serious community partner?
From our view, the military just hasn’t proven to be honest about the PFAS issue they’ve created, They barely acknowledge the damage caused not only on the base and the surrounding land, but in Lake Margarethe, where contamination was first discovered in 2018 in shoreline foam.
It’s our position that regarding the PFAS contamination, the vague outline for the proposed expansion, and the massive reduction of public access, that this proposal should not move forward. The Michigan National Guard and the military in general have not proven to be responsive to the desires of the people of Northern Michigan, or take seriously the stewardship of the land we have given them already.
We encourage all Michigan residents to submit a comment regarding the proposed expansion to DNR-Camp-Grayling@Michigan.gov