Opposition to the proposed Camp Grayling Expansion continues to grow.
Commissioners in Roscommon and Otsego Counties have unanimously passed resolutions asking the DNR not to accept the proposed Camp Grayling Expansion. The expansion would allow the Michigan National Guard to train on 162,000 additional acres of land.
“This plan in the eyes of the commissioners was a bit of an overreach,” Otsego County Administrator Matt Barresi admits. “We have a very pro-military community and a very pro-military board of commissioners, but I think there were a lot of concerns about how much property was actually needed to accomplish the mission. Also, [there are] environmental concerns.”
Commissioners’ environmental concerns grew earlier this month when the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy sent a letter to the Michigan National Guard opposing the expansion citing concerns about current PFAS issues at Camp Grayling.
“The last think that we want are these pristine resources to find out 50 years from now that something that wasn’t necessary to the area has made an impact on Houghton Lake, Higgins Lake, Lake Saint Helen,” Roscommon County Administrator Controller, Jodi Valentino, acknowledges.
Otsego and Roscommon Counties say the Guard is asking for too much land, but in a statement from Ed Golder with the DNR, they say the proposed land expansion “could shrink significantly.”
“What is significantly because right now they have quite a bit of land. Even cutting it in half is quite a bit of land. Personally, I don’t see it as needed at all,” Valentino states.
Commissioners in both counties say they feel like the proposed expansion is an overreach and a move that could have a lasting impact on locals and the economy.
“If there’s a threat to our natural resources, or the threat that the use of those natural resources will be reduced, our economy will suffer significantly and that’s where the board of commissioners absolutely have an opposition,” Valentino says.