Grayling Township to join list of those opposed to Camp Grayling expansion?

Board members say constituents and some neighboring governments are against the proposal, resolution draft expected for next meeting
The Grayling Charter Township Board of Trustees decided by consensus during a regular meeting on Wednesday, December 21, to have the township supervisor draft a resolution opposing Camp Grayling’s training area expansion request.
“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 U.S. military has transitioned from training for counter insurgency to training for large-scale combat operations in response to new and emerging global threats. The resultant military readiness training now requires immersive, multi-domain exercises which integrate land, air, maritime, cyber and space domains over greater distances than those afforded with Camp Grayling’s current size. 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,” according to a Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center Military Land Use Expansion Proposal online FAQ page provided by the DNR.
According to military officials, the current size of Camp Grayling is approximately 148,000 acres.
Grayling Charter Township officials have discussed the training area expansion proposal during past board meetings but did not take action at those times, noting that none of the requested state land falls within Grayling Township.
Jim Knight, Bear Lake Township Trustee (Kalkaska), spoke to the Grayling Charter Township Board of Trustees during the December 21 meeting during the public comment period. Knight said official opposition to the proposal has reached 20-plus government entities and 20-plus conservation groups and “there’s going to be more coming.”
Knight said people opposing the proposal are not “anti-military” and they knows “that the military is very important” with regard to local economies and “national security,” but they have many concerns about the proposal.
Bear Lake Township’s “Resolution In Opposition To DNR’s Proposed Camp Grayling Lease Expansion” says “seventeen square miles of the current land area comprising Camp Grayling is located in Bear Lake Township” and “a portion of the proposed 162,000 acre expansion will be located in Bear Lake Township” and “the increased activities and traffic associated with the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling will have a significantly adverse impact on the wear and tear on county roads within Bear Lake Township, will generate increased and adverse nuisances from noise levels within parts of Bear Lake Township, and will generally have an adverse impact on the health, welfare, and safety of the residents of Bear Lake Township.”
Knight asked the Grayling Charter Township Board of Trustees “to consider a resolution in opposition” of the proposal.
Mike McNamara, a local citizen, also asked the board to “consider adopting a resolution.” McNamara said he understands that the proposed expansion does not include any land in Grayling Charter Township “but a lot of our people recreate in those areas.”
Later, during their agenda discussion of the Camp Grayling expansion proposal, Grayling Charter Township board members spoke in favor of drafting a resolution in opposition of the plan.
Grayling Charter Township Supervisor Lacey Stephan III said residents and local conservation groups are against the proposed expansion. During a previous township meeting on November 16, Stephan shared a binder with the other board members showing the various letters and resolutions from other boards and groups opposing the plan.
“Right now they have not proven to me that it’s a need,” Stephan said on November 16. “None of it’s in Grayling Township but it does affect us.”
Grayling Charter Township Treasurer Cindy Olson – during the December 21 discussion – said the township should draft a resolution opposing the proposal because “it affects so much of our community,” including potential tourism.
Olson said “we don’t want to be assumed to be anti-patriotic or anti-military” but constituents seem to be against the training area expansion proposal.
“I haven’t talked to one person who is in support of this,” Olson said. “That’s what we’re here to do is represent our people.”
Trustee JoAnn Michal also said people she’s spoken to are not in favor of the plan. Michal said Lovells Township would be especially affected by the amount of additional land leased to the military if the proposal were to be approved.
Trustee Shannon Sorenson said she is “pro-military” but agreed with Michal and Olson that Grayling Charter Township constituents are not in favor of the expansion.
“I feel the same way. I have to side with our neighbors,” Sorenson said.
Trustee Jeri Selthoffer said Camp Grayling has enough land and questioned the honesty of the military with regard to the proposal.
“The land belongs to us. It doesn’t belong to the DNR or the military,” Selthoffer said.
Stephan said he would “put together a resolution” stating that the township is against the expansion, and asked for direction on some of the wording.
Selthoffer said “because we are not directly involved” the resolution should say that the township supports other groups and boards in the area that oppose the expansion for the reasons cited in their letters and resolutions.
Michal asked about the Crawford County Board of Commissioners and its stance on the issue, asking if the township should request of the commissioners that represent Grayling Township to attempt approval of a resolution of opposition to the expansion.
(During a regular meeting of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, October 27, District #6 Commissioner Sherry M. Powers, who represents Lovells Township, moved to have the county administrator draft a resolution opposing the Camp Grayling expansion using the Lovells resolution as a model. The motion failed.)
Stephan said he will have a draft of the resolution for the next meeting and he will invite Camp Grayling officials and Crawford County Board of Commissioners members to be present.
Lovells Township recently updated its resolution of opposition. In August, the Lovells Township Board – according to approved meeting minutes – passed a resolution opposing the proposal, and in September, Supervisor Gary A. Neumann “asked if the board thought the resolution we passed last month was strong enough,” according to meeting minutes. The Lovells board approved “Camp Grayling Expansion Resolution #10-11-2022” in October.
The revised Lovells Township resolution says “the proposal lacks specific and definitive written information regarding the scope and impact of the expansion, it lacks written justification for its necessity, and it lacks written information on the uses to be permitted and the restrictions to be implemented. Given the multiple deficiencies of the proposal as presented the Lovells Township Board must adamantly and resolutely oppose the expansion of Camp Grayling.”
Beaver Creek Township passed a resolution on December 14 opposing the expansion.
The resolutions says, in part, that the “Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on the proposed expansion and has been met with justifiable concerns from the public about the proposed expansion and use. Beaver Creek people rely on the recreational opportunities within our beautiful rich forests, pristine rivers, and open farm lands and that Beaver Creek Township wants to retain what is left of its rustic and natural outdoor playground atmosphere for the enjoyment of its citizens and visitors. The proposed expansion will take from the peaceful enjoyment of the state’s natural resources, further reducing the effectiveness of the ‘Pure Michigan Campaign,’ reduce tourism dollars to the community businesses and create even more hardships for its citizens.”
“The proposal increases use within the AuSable River, Manistee River, and Muskegon River watersheds increasing the possibility of contamination reaching a much larger area of Michigan. The National Guard usages of our public land has already created massive contamination of the area’s ground water and has already been poisoning citizens for years without giving the community a plan for cleanup,” according to Beaver Creek Resolution No. 5 – 2022.
“The proposed expansion will increase usage on our local road and trails creating a larger negative impact that we already struggle to maintain due to the heavy usages from military and logging vehicles not contributing to the maintenance,” according to the resolution.
The Beaver Creek Township resolution and a separate resolution from Lovells Township oppose recently announced proposed military airspace adjustments.
In November, the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs announced that “a public comment period will re-open November 15 for the Michigan Air National Guard’s proposal to reconfigure charted airspace available for military aircrews to meet current training requirements. The proposal is a culmination of years-long coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Guard Bureau, and local communities to modify existing military operating areas (MOAs) at low and medium altitudes and create some new MOAs on a limited basis within the Alpena Special Use Airspace (SUA).”
“Changes from the 2019 proposal include “eliminating six miles of military training airspace from the north side of the Grayling West MOA” and “raising the minimum altitude from 7,000 ft. to 10,000 ft. in the Grayling East MOA to deconflict with north/south civilian flight traffic,” according to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Area conservation groups and boards have questioned the initial 30-day public comment window – the deadline was recently extended 30 days from December 14 to January 14 – and the possibility of more noise and lower flying planes in the Crawford County area.
“The (Lovells Township) primary business district is located just 3.25 statute miles east south east of the eastern fence line of Camp Grayling’s existing Range 40 complex, Range 40 being the location where all air delivered ordnance is directed. The proposal would, if approved as presented, permit the operation of military aircraft at altitudes as low as 300 feet above ground level in the vicinity of the (Lovells Township) primary business district, a dramatic reduction in allowed minimum when compared to current restrictions, and given that the visitors to, residents of, and businesses located in the vicinity of (Lovells Township)’s primary business district currently do and historically have been forced to tolerate the noise and jet fuel fumes of low flying military aircraft under the current flight restrictions, and given the significant deficiencies of the proposal as presented the (Lovells Township) Board must adamantly and resolutely oppose the lessening of any altitude restrictions for military aircraft operating within the (Lovells Township) area,” according to Lovells Township Resolution #12-13-2022.
Beaver Creek Resolution No. 5 – 2022 says “the unnatural noise level of training is tolerated currently” but “any expansion of the ground and air usage will create a much larger distraction from the serenity of Pure Michigan driving away citizens and visitors that love our community and the peaceful enjoyment of nature,” and the Beaver Creek Board of Trustees opposes “any proposed expansion of Camp Grayling and any proposed expansion of military air space in Crawford County and the surrounding counties.”

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

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

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