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Michigan lawmaker pushes to deny Camp Grayling expansion

Ken Borton (R-Gaylord)
Michigan House Republicans
State Rep. Ken Borton, R-Gaylord. (Photo: Michigan House Republicans)

A resolution introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives urged the Department of Natural Resources to deny the proposal to expand Camp Grayling.

House Resolution 71 was introduced on Wednesday by Rep. Ken Borton (R-Gaylord) to address a proposal put forth in May 2022 to more than double the size of the Michigan National Guard training facility in central-northern Michigan.

The additional acreage would be leased from the DNR, growing what is already the largest National Guard training facility in the country.

Borton’s resolution — which is a statement, not binding law — calls on the state agency to “take seriously” concerns brought forth in the months since the announcement by environmental groups, concerned citizens and local governments.

“I have heard my constituents loud and clear, who sent me to Lansing to protect our air, water, wildlife, and all resources of our great state from contamination, and devastation,” Borton said in a statement. “Instead of ignoring this significant matter, the governor must listen to the voices of northern Michiganders – not just those in her own backyard.”

Borton and other up-north lawmakers, including Reps. John Roth (R-Interlochen) and Cam Cavitt (R-Cheboygan), along with state Sen. John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs) voiced concerns about the expansion recently in a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer has not publicly voiced an opinion on the proposal; the DNR is the agency responsible for deciding on the lease proposal.

In January, Department of Natural Resources Director Shannon Lott told the Michigan United Conservation Club that the Guard’s original ask for an additional 162,000 acres could be reduced.

MUCC — the first club to oppose the expansion — voiced concerns that public, state-owned lands “remain protected, open and used for the purposes intended, like hunting, fishing, trapping and recreating,” said Amy Trotter, MUCC executive director.

Other opponents, like Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Supervisor Randall Rothe, cite ongoing mistrust in the wake of PFAS contamination traced to the facility in 2016. Rothe wrote that the DNR should reject the expansion of Camp Grayling based on the Guard’s “inability to take timely action to investigate, mitigate, and remediate significant areas of contamination at Camp Grayling.”

As of January 2023, more than 30 local governments also submitted resolutions opposing the expansion.

Borton’s measure was referred to the House Committee on Military, Veterans and Homeland Security.

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