Camp Grayling Expansion
A recent proposal by the Michigan National Guard to more than double the amount of public lands leased from the state of Michigan is fast becoming a hot topic for conservationists in Michigan.
At its current footprint of 230 square miles, the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center is the largest National Guard training facility in the country. The installation is proposing to add 162,000 acres (253 square miles) of public lands to its lease, more than doubling the amount of land in the current agreement. This expansion would allow the National Guard to hold trainings, and conduct maneuvers on around 309,000 acres (482 square miles) of state owned public lands in northern Michigan.
Numerous local, state, and national conservation groups, and organizations have raised concerns about this proposal, citing factors. Ranging from habitat degradation and loss to impacts on public recreational access and opportunity, among others. One of the biggest concerns for Michigan hunters and anglers is access. Currently lands leased by the Michigan National Guard can be shut down at any time for training maneuvers and this is a regular occurrence on lands currently leased from the state. While we all understand and respect the importance of the Michigan National Guard’s mission, as an organization whose mission if focused on the conservation of and access to our public lands and waters, we believe it is essential to comment on what is being proposed.
To this end, the Michigan chapter strongly encourages you to reach out to your representatives and lawmakers to voice your opinions and any concerns. In your outreach, we would encourage you to consider drawing from the list of outstanding questions below. The review process for this proposal will take over a year, with a final decision being determined in late 2023.
The content of this article was provided by Zach Snyder of the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Questions to Ask to determine impact.
At any time, how much of the expansion area will be designated an impact area?
At any time, how much of the expansion area will be designated a mechanized maneuver area?
At any time, how much of the expansion area will be designated an off-trail wheeled vehicle maneuver area?
How much of the expansion area will be fenced or restricted by gated access?
Will any of the area be designated for live fire operations? Maneuvers? Range operations?
What is the daily default status of the expansion? Open and only closed for specific training events and training dates? Or closed and only open for certain hunting seasons?
Will there be any blanket closures to hunting or fishing, not related to specific training events and dates?
Are there any specified dates when there will be no training, such as rifle deer season, etc.?
Will it be closed to any other forms of recreation? Snowmobiling? Mountain biking? Hiking? What assurances will be included in the lease to keep current public recreational uses open and accessible to all?