Wednesday night, the public got their first chance to see a proposal that would expand Camp Grayling by 162,000 acres using state land.
Camp Grayling is looking to get approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to use land managed by the DNR. Camp Grayling officials say only low-impact training activities will occur in the area.
There was a lot of murmuring from the large crowd that gathered Wednesday evening as the Camp explained their plans. They say leasing the DNR land will give them a practice area for things like electronic attacks, and assured the crowd they won’t impact areas near the river. Grayling Forest Management Unit’s Tom Barnes says they want to hear what people are concerned about.
“This evening is the start of the public comment. We opened public comment up on June 9th and the public comment will run through the whole process,” Barnes states.
And the process is just beginning. After Wednesday night’s proposal review, officials will gather the public’s concerns and present them to the DNR Director. They say it could take the Director until the end of the summer to decide whether to approve or not. If the proposal is approved, they will then move to the environmental and parcel review which will involve another chance for the public to comment.
DNR officials say today was just the first step out of many. They say it may take until the end of next summer to get all the approval’s they need.
Camp Grayling Post Commander Colonel Scott Meyers assured people there will be no new live firing areas. The DNR concurs saying there shouldn’t be, “much of an impact from a recreational users standpoint.”
“The recreational user would only maybe see a little bit more of a presence of soldiers in the field,” Barnes says.
Colonel Meyers says they don’t want to restrict anybody from accessing the area. He says they would like to be able to train and use those areas just like everyone else.
“I know there’s anxiety with some folks here. We’re going to hopefully persuade them that there’s no reason to be anxious,” Col. Meyers admits. “We really depend on the public so we’re going to ask their support and see how we can limit their fears.”