Hold your applause:
the DNR did not really reject the Camp Grayling Expansion!
An Opinion from the Au Sable River Property
Owners Alliance (ARPOA)
The “rejection” by the DNR is misleading. Essentially, the DNR approved an expansion albeit not the 162,000 acres initially proposed, but one that encompasses 52,000. What was rejected was the long-term lease giving Camp Grayling carte blanche access to the six proposed expansion areas surrounding the Camp because most of the acreage was not legally available for leasing. The “rejection” has been morphed into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Military and the DNR which allows for short-term leases (Special Use Permits) in more specific locations within the originally proposed areas. Thus, Camp Grayling gets what it wanted – a completely unjustified larger footprint – over the strong, justified objections of the citizens who live, recreate and vacation in the area. Over sixty governmental agencies (e.g., townships, counties, road commissions), tribal governments, EAGLE, environmental, sports and citizen groups have strongly opposed any new land additions. Already the largest National Guard training facility, Camp Grayling proposed to double its size “To become the premier joint training location for the National Guard.”
At its current size, Camp Grayling is already a premier training location irrespective of the hyperbole. Consider however that Camp Grayling does not utilize nearly 50% of the land they currently have within its boundaries. Justification as to why these activities cannot be done within these boundaries has not been stated. In fact, these proposed activities are being done at other military bases that have much smaller footprints. After many months of hearings the military has not provided an identifiable “need” for expansion. It’s still a “want.”
We also need to remember that Camp Grayling is located in the heart of two of the most ionic fragile watersheds in Michigan, Au Sable and Manistee and with expansion, Muskegon. These watersheds are recognized worldwide. Any expansion of military activities is incompatible with maintaining the health of these watersheds and the enjoyment of these natural resources by citizens and thus this decision by the DNR is not a “win” for the health of the watersheds and for the people.
Our position on this matter has not changed. We are strongly opposed to the MOU and argue that not one additional acre for training is needed. We are disappointed and puzzled as to why Governor Whitmer and the MDNR have approved the use of additional public lands for training in light of the lack of justification and the unusually strong and unusually unified public opposition. The MOU has a termination clause, and we strongly urge these public servants to use this clause to stop any use of public lands outside the current Camp Grayling boundaries.
Air Space Expansion
Proposal Another Bad Idea:
The View from the Au Sable River Property Owners Alliance
The Air National Guard is requesting an expansion of 1,633 nautical square miles to the existing 11,042-square-mile airspace where military pilots train. It would establish permanent airspace east of I-75 and Grayling for jets to use between 500 and 17,999 feet. The Au Sable River Property Owners Alliance is strongly opposed to this proposed expansion. Our position is based on the negative impact it would have on human health, the environmental health of the Au Sable River ecosystem, the enjoyment and stewardship of this ecosystem by property owners, the recreational tourism economy, and real estate values.
If this proposal is approved, jets could drop as low as 300 feet over parts of Lake Huron and occasionally travel between Grayling and Alpena. EA-18G Growlers, which are known to be the loudest jets in the world, will be used for electromagnetic warfare training on newly acquired public land if the proposed Camp Grayling expansion is approved. Already the intensity of military activities at Camp Grayling have increased to the level that all summer and during portions of the winter, bombs and low flying jets rattle our windows and houses, causing objects to fall off shelves, drywall nails to pop out, and our pets to shiver. Citizens are often taken aback when outdoors by low flying aircraft, a situation that will be worse with the plan to lower flight paths to 500 feet. In addition, the number of sorties is to increase 10 times. The use of Growlers flying at lower altitudes will just amplify the noise pollution. The negative impact on the livability and enjoyment of the Pure Michigan resource is clear. The risks to human health are documented and include crash risks, higher rates of hypertension, heart attacks, attention deficiencies in children, and exposure to radiation. Citizens do not need this.
The headwaters of the Au Sable where activities will take place are fragile, and it is this fragility that makes these an integral Pure Michigan resource. Already the intensity of military activities have introduced perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) into rivers, groundwater, and lakes, making some of these resources unusable, with the full impact of this pollution still unknown and not dealt with as aggressively by the National Guard as it warrants. Consider also the possible pollution of groundwater at the bomb and artillery impact sites. This has never been addressed. The lack of measurements and understanding means the total impact on the current environment and environmental legacy of military activities in these watersheds is unknown. If the air space expansion is approved, we can expect increased chaff and flare releases, offering a rain of pollution on the headwaters of the most famous trout streams in the Midwest; noise pollution affecting breeding and including stress, and electromagnetic radiation interfering with bird migratory patterns. The ecosystem does not need this.
No other state has sacrificed more of its public land in support of the National Guard than Michigan. The communities, county, state have continually demonstrated patriotism and support to Camp Grayling for over 100 years, yet we are shocked by the lack of regard by the military, state and federal elected officials and their appointees for the welfare of the citizens of northern Michigan, for Michigan’s environment and for its ecosystems. This is inexcusable and appalling.
Michigan does not need more military activities, whether land, or air. Do we need to train our Military? Yes. Do we need to use additional Pure Michigan natural resources to do it on public land? No.
It eviscerates the Environmental Assessment produced by the National Guard Bureau, addressing the impact of the expansion on all creatures big and small.
Endangered species and threatened species are addressed and potential impact on plants and insects that are of such critical importance to birds and wildlife and the food chain.
Opposition to the Proposed Expansion of Camp Grayling is Community-Based, Substantial and Growing
Opposition to the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling is community-based, substantial and growing. Counties and townships across the area are passing resolutions to express their absolute disapproval of this ill-conceived, unjustified land grab.
ARPOA has developed a map of counties and townships showing the strength of that opposition. Please, show your support: forward this newsletter to others; post it on your Facebook page and encourage others to do the same. If your own community hasn’t made it’s position clear, reach out to them, encourage them to voice their opposition.
- environmental (e.g., pollution, landscape disturbance)
- ecosystem (e.g., fisheries)
- recreational (e.g., no fish, trail closures)
- enjoyment (e.g., noise, visual pollution, all the preceding)
- economic (e.g., decrease in recreation tourism and effects on restaurants, recreational business, decreased property values, infrastructure degradation)
But the expansion will affect more than just the thousands of acres and countless communities in direct contact with Camp Grayling. The State of Michigan is already pouring your tax dollars into addressing the PFAS contamination caused by Camp Grayling. That this serious threat to human health and the ecosystem has yet to be effectively dealt with by the military is evidence enough that more than local communities may be affected by the intensification of military activities in a broader area.
ARPOA is passionate about caring for and in protecting your enjoyment of the river and your property. We will continue to update the map as more counties and townships make their positions known and keep you informed as the situation develops. If you find a discrepancy in the map or have new information to add to it, please contact us at [email protected].
Michigan Official Comes Out Against Camp Grayling Expansion
A Michigan official has come out against the Camp Grayling Expansion, according to a recent article in Bridge Michigan. EGLE supervisor Randall Rothe wrote that DNR officials should reject the expansion of Camp Grayling, citing the National Guard’s consistent failure to address PFAS contamination stemming from the use of their Grayling base. As Angler’s of the Au Sable President Joe Hemming puts it so succinctly, “They’re not good stewards of what they already have.”
In addition, Rothe writes that the military’s refusal to better study PFAS impacts near the base has forced the state to step in with its own investigations at “an enormous expense to the state of Michigan.” Those are our tax dollars, folks!
READ Randall Rothe’s Letter to the Guard
READ Bridge Michigan Article
LISTEN to Michigan Radio’s Stateside Podcast interviewing Kelly House from Bridge Michigan, author of the above article. Begins just at the 13-minute mark.
Read our Opinion Piece on the
National Guard’s Air Space Expansion
Traverse City Record Eagle, Jan 15, 2023
Read our Opinion Piece on the
Camp Grayling Expansion
Traverse City Record Eagle, Oct 21, 2022
THE ARPOA POSITION
The Au Sable River Property Owners Alliance (ARPOA) is strongly opposed to the proposed Camp Grayling lease expansion from an area of 230 square miles to that of 480 square miles. The ARPOA Board of Directors voted to take this position at a special meeting after gathering information from listening to various public hearings with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and the National Guard at Camp Grayling (NGCG); learning about resolutions against the expansion by townships affected; and discussions with our members, affected property owners, and other conservation groups. The expansion is a threat to the future health and enjoyment of the Manistee, Muskegon, and Au Sable rivers and would be a significant deviation from the mission statement of the MDNR; which is the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.
The information gathered revealed various negative impacts threatening the watersheds that include economic impacts; decreased property values; reduced recreational accessibility; subleasing of the lands for private business testing, a practice mostly unknown to the public; impact on infrastructure; habitat disruption; pollution (both current like PFAS, from the increasing training, and those that have yet to be discovered); and impacts of Electronic Warfare on the ecosystem and public communications.
In sum, ARPOA strongly opposes the expansion, a position not taken lightly as we support a fully ready military. But the proposed expansion request by the NGCG is egregious, posing a significant threat to the headwaters and land surrounding the Au Sable, Manistee, Muskegon Rivers and is unjustified. Our opposition is directly in line with the mission of ARPOA to preserve, protect and enhance the Au Sable River watershed’s great natural endowments of wilderness scenery, unpolluted cold-water, and stable forest habitat for the enjoyment of future generations. It is also in line with the positions taken by our companion associations such as the Anglers of the Au Sable, North Branch Area Foundation, and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs as well as the resolutions from the various townships.
We have sent letters of our position to Mr. Daniel Eichinger (former Director, MDNR) and the current acting director, Shannon Lott, with cc’s to Governor Gretchen Whitmer; Mr. Thomas Barnes, MDNR Unit Manager, Grayling; U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters; U.S. Representatives Elissa Slotkin, Jack Bergman, and John Moolenaar; State Representatives Daire Rendon, State Senators Curt VanderWall and Curtis Hertel, and Col. Scott Meyers (Commander Camp Grayling).
Click HERE for Position Resources