Michigan National Guard Exploring Camp Grayling Expansion

A northern Michigan training installation is looking to expand, and it has many asking what will it mean for the community.

Those involved with the expansion say they are trying to keep up with the changing times of the military.

Camp Grayling, the largest guard and reserve installation in the United States, sits on 147,000 acres in Crawford County.

Now that Afghanistan is winding down, the training patterns are changing again.”

The Michigan National Guard is hoping to adapt to those changes sooner rather than later. They’re exploring the possibility of expanding Camp Grayling. 

“Out of that 147,000 acres, over 40,000 of those acres, we operate on a land use agreement with the Department of Natural Resources,” explained Brig. Gen. Mike Stone, Assistant Adjutant General for MI National Guard.

They’ve asked the DNR to find about 50,000 acres of land adjacent to Camp Grayling that they could add to their current land use agreements.

Susan Thiel, the unit manager of the DNR’s Grayling Forestry Unit said,”This is not an easy process. Since they asked for the feasibility, currently, right now we are just into scoping out the feasibility of this, and we’re getting input from other resource managers to discuss with the National Guard if this is even possible.”

As the Michigan National Guard and DNR look into the possibility of growth, it has the public asking, what impact could it have on them?

“From the Camp Grayling side, the list of promises is very nice, won’t really effect anything. The problem is that’s not always been the case. Some of the land that the Guard uses now is closed during bird season, or when they’re doing training exercises,” said Andy Partlow, co-owner of the Old AuSable Fly Shop.

Both the DNR and Michigan National Guard say there won’t be any permanent installations, fencing, or live fire on this new land, and all environmental, recreational and legal implications will be reviewed. 

“Where it’s going to lead to, we know this, Grayling is a premiere training installation and it’s our job to protect it and keep it and be competitive for Michigan.”