County board passes resolution opposing Camp Grayling expansion

Commissioners approve document with 6-1 vote during regular meeting on Thursday, January 26
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners joined many other area municipalities in officially opposing the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling training areas last week, approving a resolution during its regular meeting on Thursday.
“Camp Grayling is asking for a twenty-year lease of additional land from the people of Michigan through the Department of Natural Resources for military training activities. The proposal will add approximately 162,000 acres of land around Camp Grayling,” according to the county’s Resolution Opposing The Expansion Of Camp Grayling 1262023. 
According to the resolution, the county board opposes the proposal because of constituent concerns and possible adverse effects on tourism, roads, the environment, and human health.
“The citizens of Crawford County depend on the public land that is available for those that live here and those that visit. The abundant rich forests and pristine rivers are critical to the economy and the enjoyment of all people. The increased activities and traffic associated with the proposed expansion will have significant and adverse impacts on our roads, our environment, and the natural habitat of the region,” according to the resolution.
“We hear the concerns of our constituents and believe that the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling will ultimately have an adverse impact on the health and general welfare of the citizens and the precious natural resources of Crawford County. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners oppose any proposed expansion of Camp Grayling,” according to the resolution.
During the first of two public comment periods on Thursday, January 26, several people – including commissioners from Otsego County – spoke to the Crawford County board about the proposed Camp Grayling training area expansion.
Jonathan Turnbull, Otsego County commissioner, said the Otsego board passed a resolution opposing the expansion with a unanimous vote based on the will of its constituents. Turnbull said he is a retired Army veteran who sustained significant injuries during his service to the country, but he does not want his opposition of the Camp Grayling expansion to be interpreted as anti-military.
“I love our military,” Turnbull said. 
One citizen said he opposes the expansion because military activity has already harmed tourism and he doesn’t think area residents should be treated as “guinea pigs” with testing of technology.
“This area has been depressed long enough from the guard. I oppose it,” he said.
“The Michigan National Guard has proposed leasing about 162,000 acres of state forest land to conduct training exercises that use sophisticated communications systems,” according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “The newly proposed training areas, if approved, would be used for periodic, low impact activities such as drone operation, cyber, electronic warfare, space and communication system installation and operation.”
Another Otsego County person said the opposition is not anti-military but felt the expansion could be a “detriment” to public land, water, and health. She said there are three “defunct military bases” in Michigan and those should be used for the activities planned for the proposed training area expansion instead of the DNR granting more leased public land.
“We do support our military. We love our military,” she said. “Don’t take more land from the people.”
One local resident encouraged the Crawford County Board of Commissioners to pass the resolution because the growing list of governments opposing the expansion is “getting us in the door at Lansing” and garnering the attention of state officials.
A Frederic Township resident spoke about the long list of governments that have officially opposed the Camp Grayling  training area expansion and asked Crawford County to join them.
“We all very much support our military but we do not want to see northern Michigan further militarized,” he said.
Jim Knight, Bear Lake Township Trustee (Kalkaska), asked the Crawford County board to “please join us” in supporting constituents in opposition of the proposal.
One Grayling resident spoke about having to use filtered water every day because of PFAS contamination caused by the military. He said the first positive test occurred in 2017 and six years later “we have no resolution.”
“I’m strongly against this expansion,” he said. “In our county and in our townships our water isn’t safe. They don’t need more land. They need to fix the problems they have caused.”
A South Branch Township resident said he is a retired Army veteran and worked in electronic warfare during his time in service of the country. He said Camp Grayling should not need to more than double its size for the proposed uses of the additional land.
“They don’t need all that ground to do what they say they’re going to do,” he said.
Grayling Charter Township Supervisor Lacey Stephan III said numerous conservation groups have officially opposed the expansion, including some who have had multiple meetings with military officials.
District #1 Commissioner Laurie Jamison, Chairwoman of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners, said the “board has struggled with their opinions” with regard to the issue.
(During a regular meeting of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, October 27, 2022, a motion failed to have the county administrator draft a resolution opposing the Camp Grayling expansion.)
Commissioner Jamison said the board was “elected to do what constituents asked us to do” and she “asked each commissioner to research and talk to constituents.”
Commissioner Jamison said board members have received “threats” and “personal attacks” throughout the process.
“Personal attacks need to stop. Threats need to stop,” Commissioner Jamison said.
Commissioner Jamison said no matter how the vote proceeds, the board will be united moving forward.
District #2 Commissioner Dorothy A. Frederick moved to pass the resolution. District #6 Commissioner Sherry M. Powers supported the motion, and the board passed it 6-1 with Jamison voting no.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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