Viewpoint: Camp Grayling Excellence Does Not Necessitate Such Drastic Expansion

As someone who has served both in the military and in Congress, I’ve taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. As part of that oath, I’ve sworn to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. It is easy to walk the line when those two policy areas coincide — but when they conflict, it’s a political minefield.
The proposed expansion of Camp Grayling has predictably led to concerns by local community groups, government officials, and constituents. The concerns are completely understandable and must be tackled with a measured and nonpartisan approach to ensure that neither component — national security nor public welfare — is jeopardized.
I’m proud that Michigan’s First District is home to our country’s largest National Guard training facility, contributing to the overall readiness and effectiveness of our military. Let’s be totally clear: I fully understand the importance of training for agility, adaptability, and lethality — it’s a passion that I bring to Congress every day. That’s why I’ve fought and successfully secured funding and other resources for Camp Grayling. These efforts have helped foster critical components in our military training and readiness and are necessary to provide for the common defense.
During a time of heightened threats to our homeland, nobody in good faith would call for scaling back Camp Grayling’s current footprint or make any efforts to prevent them from training properly.
However, that’s not the question at hand.
On more than one occasion we’ve seen government entities — federal, state and even local — overstep the bounds of realistic needs. We don’t have to look very far to see government entities, many with good intentions, that have expanded beyond their intended scope of operation. In Northern Michigan, we are seeing this play out before our eyes as the State of Michigan seeks to more than double the size of Camp Grayling with a proposed lease of 162,000 additional acres of state-owned land across several counties. Nearly every township and county impacted by this proposed expansion has formally come out against the proposal, clearly articulating their rationale for opposing the lease. It should be noted that this level of agreement is nearly impossible to find today among elected officials.
Camp Grayling is woven into the fabric of the Northern Michigan community — and for generations it has enjoyed broad support while providing jobs to residents and being an economic driver for the region. However, the current widespread opposition to the proposed expansion will strain the relationship between Grayling and the surrounding communities.
Meanwhile it’s my belief, and the belief of many First District constituents, that the proposal has yet to be adequately justified, and at a minimum should be right-sized to reflect reality. Given the existing acreage and airspace — particularly the underutilized components — this massive expansion effort has left constituents with more questions than answers.
Concerns range from new environmental and noise pollutants, unresolved PFAS pollution, disruptions to and contamination of wildlife, and tourism-hampering probabilities. Our anglers, hunters, landowners, and residents deserve transparency and reciprocal respect in these conversations.
The proposed expansion does not have a compelling justification at this time — and if it does, the state has done a woefully inadequate job of selling their story. The National Guard and Michigan DNR must legitimately listen to the people affected by this proposal. The genuine and valid concerns stemming from the impacted parties should prompt the Guard and DNR to reconsider, regroup, and reassess the situation as the outgrowth could cause unnecessary damage to our resources, community relations, and general welfare.
Previously published by The Petoskey News-Review. Sent by Congressman Bergman’s office to the Crawford County Avalanche on Friday, February 17.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

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

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