Camp Grayling explores possibility of expansion
Camp Grayling is the largest guard and reserve training center in the country. Now, they're looking into the possibility of becoming even larger.
Currently, it sits on 147-thousand acres of land. In January Brigadier General Mike Stone of the Michigan National Guard, went to the Department of Natural Resources to ask if there was any other land in the tri-county area that they could use to expand.
More than 40-thousand acres of Camp Grayling are a part of a land use agreement with the Department of Natural Resources and are shared with the hunters and fishermen that frequent the area. It's a concept that Camp Grayling Leaders are hoping to continue with the possible expansion.
"I think that title, expansion, kind of scares people," said Brig Gen Stone. "Because they think that we're seizing or taking and that we're going to put up new ranges and fences. So what we are looking for is land-use and for units to go out to the field and train. No new firing points, no new ranges, no new fences. For the public it's almost seamless to what they're used to experiencing in the Grayling area."
Many people who use the land that Camp Grayling already shares with the DNR say they're skeptical about these guarantees. Owners at the Old AuSable Fly Shop are worried about the potential expansion into the Manistee and Au Sable Rivers.
"I mean it looks good on paper like,"Hey no worries...don't worry about it. We're just going to take this property, we're not really going to do anything and you'll be fine and you can always use it,"" said Co Owner Andy Partlo. "It's not the case on the stuff they have now...so how can I believe it in the future?"
The Department of Natural Resources says there are still a lot of steps that need to be taken before anything is finalized.
"We'll ask the public what they think," said DNR Forestry Chief, Bill O'Neil. "What do our customers think? Do they think that this is a good idea? Do they think is compatible? So the public will have ample opportunity to be able to chime in, let us know what they think and once we have all of that information, we'll formulate our recommendation to the director."
Brig Gen Stone says that there are five areas they are looking into as possibilities for the expansion.
The Department of Natural Resources will be taking a look at any negative impacts the expansion could have on the natural resources in the area after officials file a land transaction application.
Brig Gen Stone says they are expecting an increased amount of training to come to Camp Grayling in 2015 and 2016 from brigade combat teams across the country.