Letter: Why we oppose a Camp Grayling expansion
Camp Grayling is the largest National Guard training facility in the United States. What was once was the property of a lumber baron is now 230 square miles of government-owned land in the center of northern Michigan.
When the land was bought a century ago, it was covered in beautiful forests, the sprawling Lake Margrethe, and the pristine Au Sable Manistee rivers.
Much of those trees and all of those waters still exist, intermingled with buildings, roads, and other military training infrastructure. But Camp Grayling's nature is not fully protected from additional development and the pollution that might come with it. That makes an unclear, proposed expansion of the facility all the more risky.
The National Guard wants to more than double the size of Camp Grayling so its members can train for "electronic warfare." That doubled size would comprise the majority of Crawford County, where most of the camp is located in.
If the expansion is allowed, all the new, largely pristine wilderness could be left largely intact or it could be developed. Unfortunately, the National Guard has not indicated the extent of infrastructure it would need to create, nor its potential impact on wildlife and waters.
Given the National Guard's unclear motivations and plans, and given the military's history of polluting the land and water it inhabits, the Michigan Environmental Council is opposed to any such expansion of Camp Grayling.
Land & water policy coordinator Emily Smith spoke with Environmental Council member groups involved in this issue, such as Anglers of the Au Sable and Michigan Trout Unlimited. With their leaders' expertise and the concerns of their members in mind, Smith submitted a letter to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources indicating our opposition to any such expansion.
The Department, which leases the land, will soon determine whether to permit, adjust, or deny the National Guard's wishes. The Environmental Council and its member groups will continue to be engaged in its process.
You can read and download our letter of opposition below.