Bear Lake Township Officials Raise Concerns Over Proposed Camp Grayling Expansion

Campgrayling2Discussion surrounding the proposed Camp Grayling expansion is heating up as Bear Lake Township officials raise concerns over the expansion.

Back in June, Camp Grayling announced plans to more than double the camp’s size by leasing 162,000 acres of land from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Kalkaska County commissioners and Bear Lake Township officials say they were upset after finding out about the expansion over social media.

Bear Lake Township officials held a meeting with the DNR and Camp Grayling officials last Thursday where they apologized for the miscommunication. Township officials says that’s just the beginning of their grievances.

“There’s a lot of unknowns about what could happen there and I just believe that the 147,000 acres that the National Guard has now is more than adequate to do the things they say they want to do,” Bear Lake Township Trustee, Jim Knight protests. “The 162,000 acres they want right here to fly drones and to jam signals I question because I don’t believe you need 162,000 acres to do that.”

They say they have a number of concerns over the expansion. Their main concerns are the safety and access to the public as well as maintaining the land. Officials say there have been, “numerous instances” of dogs walking in shared areas that have been mutilated by razor wire left behind.

“That camp land has been under the jurisdiction of the DNR and Camp Grayling, why is that razor wire out there? I mean that is a complete hazard,” Knight states.

The DNR put out a statement in response to officials concerns, saying the DNR must be notified that barbed wire or razor wire will be used and removal is required when exercises have ended.

Bear Lake Township Supervisor George Banker says he understands the emerging needs the military has, but says the expansion is an inconvenience.

“The army already owns 17 square miles of the southeastern corner of this township. This will add another 40 to 50 miles,” Banker says. “It’s only natural I think that people really want to question this and why some are already against it.”

Trustee Jim Knight says he believes the situation is a bit unfair and wonders where the DNR will get the resources to maintain the land.

“[Camp Grayling is] not giving the DNR a dime for the use of 162,000 acres that all of us have to buy permits and licenses to use the state land. Somewhere in there there’s a disconnect,” Knight says.

Folks are especially weary after an article where Post Commander Colonel Scott Meyers talks about the possibility of private companies that could rent Camp Grayling training areas to test out equipment.

“I believe the 162,000 acres is going to be used by the defense contractors that are going to come in and try their experimental weaponry,” Knight claims.

Colonel Meyers says he was referring to current training areas and says there’s no plan to rent out the proposed expansion land to private industries, but says he can’t rule it out.

“There’s no question about the patriotism that the people have that are objecting to this. It’s the fact that most of the people here know what this plan is and they know there is enough land on the 147,000 acres to do the maneuvers that were told that are going to take place on the 162,000 acres,” Knight says.