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State-wide conservation group opposes Camp Grayling expansion

Camp Grayling
Michael Livingston
Military equipment sits on display June 20 in front of Camp Grayling in Crawford county.

As public comment continues for the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs announced its opposition to the project.

As public comment continues for the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling - The Michigan United Conservation Clubs announced its opposition to the project last week.

The nonprofit, founded in 1937, is the largest statewide conservation organization in the country. It represents over 200 affiliated clubs and 40,000 hunters, anglers, trappers, and conservationists.

MUCC officials said in a post on its website that the 162,000-acre expansion does not fall in line with the organization’s core values or the Department of Natural Resources mission statement.

“The DNR review process will take at least a year,” MUCC policy assistant Justin Tomei said in the post. “That is a year of shifted staff priorities, a year of added expense, a year of the department working on military priorities rather than for the citizens of Michigan.”

Last month, the Michigan National Guard announced it wanted to lease additional land from the DNR to use for additional training exercises. The land would remain in DNR ownership and management and would still be open to the public.

MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter says a 1989 resolution informed MUCC’s decision. It states the organization will not support expansions unless the National Guard can prove its due to a national emergency.

She said she’s also concerned about the costs of environmental reviews which comes from DNR funding.

“We need to see that this is justified,” Trotter said. “To me, that needs to come from the national guard. We need to understand the ‘why’ we are looking at this kind of acreage and the necessity of it.”

The DNR provided a statement to the Record-Eagle.

"We appreciate the individuals and organizations that have taken the time to provide feedback on the Camp Grayling lease update proposal. These comments will be among the factors taken into consideration when Director Eichinger makes his final decision on this matter."

The proposal currently receiving public comment until July 8. Meetings were held last week that saw participation from more than 200 stakeholders. Despite over two hours of Q&A, some said they left with unanswered questions about how the proposal would impact the environment, infrastructure and access to the land.

The DNR put out an interactive map earlier this month that details the land the National Guard intends to lease, including its proximity to the Au Sable River — something local conservation groups were concerned about.

Residents can use the map’s interface to leave comments.

IPR News reached out to the Michigan National Guard for comment on this story and has not received a response yet.

DNR officials said at the public meetings last week the review process won’t be completed until the end of 2023.

Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.