The Sound Of Freedom

To the editor: Some people would say that special interest groups are bad. I would disagree. Special interest groups have clear missions; they attempt to sway the beliefs and opinions of others. I fit my definition of a special interest group as I also am attempting to potentially sway public opinions on this extremely important local issue.
Several units of local government have adopted resolutions in opposition of the expansion of Camp Grayling. In our democracy we the people have the most power and influence at the local level. The elected local government officials, I feel, have adopted these resolutions based upon their personal convictions and possibly their perception of the opinions of those who they represent. There is nothing wrong with this as it is its truest form “Government by the People.”
My concern is based on the fact that potentially the perceived public opinion is that of some of the local outspoken special interest groups, not necessarily the balance of the general public.
The special interest groups, through the power of the press, have based their opposition primarily on two major points.
Concerns about the environment
They have used a letter written by an employee of the Michigan Department of Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and presented it as the official position of EGLE on the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling. Mr. Randall Rothe does not have the authority to issue an opinion on behalf of EGLE, therefore his letter was based on his personal opinion, not that of his employer. Secondly, EGLE does not have the authority to deal with the possible expansion of Camp Grayling.
PFAS and its expanded family of chemical compounds that are a part of our lives today do pose a serious environmental concern. We all share in the responsibility to ensure that we keep such chemical compounds out of the environment. Who can honestly say that they have never discarded footwear that was treated with chemicals to waterproof them, cookware that is treated to make it non-stick, or clothing that has been treated with chemicals to make it water resistant or fire resistant? These actions make us also a part of the environmental pollution problem.
The cleanup/elimination of PFAS from the environment is not as simple as changing your furnace filter.
Several governmental agencies, both federal and state, have regulatory oversight dealing with the PFAS issue. EGLE, though they have no regulatory authority to approve or disapprove the expansion, does have an important role in the cleanup of PFAS throughout the state. They are part of the approval process and have been working with the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on this issue. They also administer federal funding through the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund that provides grants and low interest loans for community water supply systems that can be utilized for projects such as the PFAS mitigation.
In my opinion there may well be several approved processes involved in the ultimate cleanup of the PFAS.
1. Ground water remediation (pumping contaminated water from the aquifer, treating it for the removal of PFAS, and then discharging the clean water back into the environment). 
2. Expanding locally owned and operated community water supplies into the most densely populated areas with the PFAS contamination.
3. The continued use of the existing point of use filters systems.
There may be other proposals reviewed and considered, but the bottom line is that the process could be very lengthy and expensive.
Loss of use, by the general public, of the state-owned properties that would be included in the proposed expansion
Much has been written about how the Pure Michigan recreational use of these publicly owned properties would be lost if the proposed Camp Grayling expansion were to be approved.
It is true that there would/could be times when the unrestricted public use is denied. There are also times when the unrestricted public use is denied on portions of the existing Camp Grayling complex. These restrictions are imposed when there are military training activities taking place and are only imposed to protect the public and military. Large portions of the existing Camp Grayling complex are currently open, the majority of the time, for snowmobiles, ATVs, berry and mushroom pickers, hikers, fishing, and swimming.
My biggest concern is that individuals are provided with information that is based upon facts and not tainted with information designed to arouse opinions based on fear, emotion, and partial truths.
As a property owner in two of Crawford County’s townships, my opinion is based on my perceived concern over the potential financial impact if the proposal is not approved.
Camp Grayling, as one of the larger employers in Crawford County, provides a lot of money into the local economy through federal dollars, state dollars, and the dollars that the military personally collectively spend while they are training here.
If the expansion is not approved it could, I am stating this purely as my perceived opinion and not one based upon known facts, adversely impact the local economy.
1. If Camp Grayling, because of insufficient training space, were to be deemed unable to meet the training needs of the current military units it could lose training days to other military installations.
2. States that currently have equipment stored at the maintenance facility on North Down River Road could choose to move their training exercises to other military installations.
3. The joint forces training status that Camp Grayling currently enjoys could be lost if military units from active, reserve, and National Guard choose to utilize other military installations.
The loss of customers/using units most likely could result in the loss of employment opportunities (jobs) at Camp Grayling which would/could include full time and part time military personnel, civilian employees, local contractors, and public employees who provide for the public safety needs at Camp Grayling.
Our Grayling home is just down the road from the Multi Purpose Range Complex. We hear the noise from the range complex and aircraft and drones flying over our property. To me it is not an annoyance. It is the sound of freedom.
Thank you for your efforts to provide the community with information about this extremely important local issue.
Bruce D. Jerome

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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