REGION- Last Thursday, Anglers of the Au Sable urged the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to reject the Michigan’s National Guard’s proposal to add 250 square miles of public land to Camp Grayling and not engage with the Guard on any compromises regarding the current proposal.
In recent comments to a legislative committee, Acting DNR Director Shannon Lott said the Guard had failed to show it had any need for an expansive long-term property lease, but indicated she was working with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office toward a compromise that would be revealed later. The apparent consideration of the DNR for a much smaller expansion, limited in time, demonstrates that the massive initial proposal was illegitimate.
Anglers calls on the DNR to totally reject the current Guard proposal immediately. The Guard has not shown, or even attempted to show, that it cannot use Camp Grayling’s existing footprint for electromagnetic warfare training and testing. Anglers’ board of directors considers any DNR-driven compromise or workaround to this proposal to be outside the mission of the DNR, as well as a misuse of state lands and state resources.
It would also disregard the enormous outpouring of anti-expansion sentiment from local citizens and communities. We join more than 45 local government units, including Crawford, Roscommon, Otsego, Cheboygan, and Kalkaska counties, in opposing the Guard’s expansion, along with a long list of conservation groups. The local communities have noted that the Guard has failed to live up to agreements on how it would use the current Camp Grayling properties.
The Gaylord office of the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy formally opposed the expansion due to Camp Grayling’s failure for five years to adequately react to the PFAS pollution it has caused.
Anglers also have serious concerns about suggestions that the DNR would give the Guard a more limited “special use permit” for access to additional land. We question whether use permits are any more valid for military training and research purposes than a lease, which the DNR has now acknowledged it cannot legally use. The DNR, by its own mission, is meant to be “committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.”
The DNR is not duty-bound to the Michigan National Guard, or Camp Grayling, for the lease or permit to use any state land. There should be no workaround or “olive branch” offered by the DNR toward the Guard. We call on all branches of state government to reject this proposed expansion, immediately.