The Interim Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Shannon Lott, finally commented on the proposed Camp Grayling expansion, leaving many opposed to it perplexed.
The DNR first announced the Michigan National Guard’s proposal to expand Camp Grayling for cyber warfare training back in June. Now, nearly nine months later, Lott spoke on the matter for the first time.
Representative Ken Borton asked Lott if she supports the Camp Grayling expansion at a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee.
“We’re looking at other ways to help them do the training exercises they need to do,” Lott said at the meeting Tuesday.
Lott says the National Guard, ‘doesn’t need the 162,000 acres of land’ they requested, but implied they are still working on a deal.
“We’ve been very clear about cyber testing, making sure that’s really the only thing they need. And there’s really only a few days a year where they need to do that. So, we’re going to dwindle it down to some of those really specific times they need to do that,” Lott admitted.
And although the DNR is reducing the acres and restricting where and when the training can take place, those opposed to it says they shouldn’t receive an extra acre.
“We believe it can be done on the properties they have now. We just don’t see any reason why it needs to expand,” Bear Lake Township Trustee, Jim Knight, states.
Knight points to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy who opposed the expansion due to PFAS issues in Lake Margarethe as well as the Manistee and Au Sable Rivers.
“Right now it’s confined to those areas, but it’s certainly going down stream. Our concerns are [that] there’s going to be something new that we don’t know about yet that could happen on that land that’s going to be a concern for generations to come,” Knight predicts.
The Michigan National Guard released a statement saying their ask for state land ‘has and always been about providing service members with the best training opportunities’ and to keep them safe and successful.
Knight says the DNR is rewarding bad behavior and says he will continue to oppose the expansion.
“Without it being any clearer than it is. We oppose this proposal and until that proposal is taken off the table we’re going to oppose this and continue moving forward,” Knight says.
The DNR says they hope to release more information in the next week and a half detailing the updated plans.