Camp Grayling expansion may inhibit public land access
Earlier this year, a proposal by the Michigan National Guard to more than double the amount of public lands it already leases from the state of Michigan fast became a hot topic for conservationists in Michigan and beyond.
At its current footprint of 230 square miles, the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center is already the largest National Guard training facility in the country. The National Guard since has proposed adding an additional 162,000 acres (253 square miles) of public lands to its lease. This expansion would result in Camp Grayling being able to train and conduct maneuvers on around 309,000 acres (482 square miles) of state-owned public lands of northern Michigan. More recently, the National Guard has requested additional airspace for combat training.
Local, state and national conservation groups share a long list of concerns about this proposal, ranging from habitat degradation/loss to local impact, access and opportunity, among others. One of the biggest concerns for Michigan hunters and anglers is access. Currently lands leased by the MI National Guard can be shut down at any time for training maneuvers, which is a regular occurrence in the area. While we all understand, respect and greatly support the importance of the Michigan National Guard’s mission, any actions that would potentially restrict access and opportunity to our public lands would be in direct conflict with our primary mission as a public lands and water advocacy organization.
The Michigan chapter of BHA is against this proposed expansion and will do our part alongside a multitude of other conservation organizations from all points on the political spectrum to prevent this expansion from taking place.
We also strongly encourage BHA members and non-members alike to continue to contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, your representatives and lawmakers to voice your opinions and concerns. The review process for this proposal will take over a year, with a final decision being determined in late 2023.
Content submitted by Michigan BHA board member Zach Snyder.