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Anglers of the Au Sable President Critiques the Camp Grayling Expansion

In August, we discussed the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) proposal to lease an additional 253 square miles of land to Camp Grayling and some of the concerns that members of surrounding communities have about the proposal. Michigan LCV spoke to Joe Hemming, president of the Anglers of the Au Sable, about the potential environmental impact – especially to water – that could happen as a result.  

Joe Hemming, President of the Anglers of the Au Sable.

Camp Grayling is located in northern Michigan, and the Manistee and Au Sable rivers traverse its territory. Already the largest national guard training camp in the United States at 231 square miles, the camp’s proximity to the iconic Au Sable and Manistee watersheds is cause for concern.  Both rivers are integral to the way of life for many Michiganders, providing recreation opportunities such as fishing, hunting, hiking, birding, kayaking and more. 

The Anglers identify 22% of land proposed for Grayling’s expansion as of high or critical importance. The DNR’s lease agreement with the Guard would implement a buffer that prevents any military activity within 1500-feet of rivers. This is not enough, according to Hemmings. He explains that what makes these rivers so special is their stable flow, which is thanks to the multitude of small feeder creeks surrounding them.

Kayaking the Mighty Au Sable River!

These are fragile watersheds, dependent on the small streams that feed into them. The 1500 ft buffer does not take into account the wetlands and feeder streams that feed into the watersheds.” – Joe Hemming, President of the Anglers of the Au Sable

According to the Guard and the DNR, the reason for the proposed expansion of the Camp Grayling lease is to accommodate more military training, including electromagnetic warfare training that may impact the environment in yet untold ways. But as Hemming says, the Anglers have discovered that the DNR does not have the authority to authorize the expansion per the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act and are keen to protect the rivers, land and wildlife that is so beloved. 

[The proposed expansion] violates the mission of the DNR. We don’t know what we don’t know – and we don’t know about electromagnetic training. We don’t know the impacts on the fish, or the insects. One thing that is so special about the Au Sable is its reliable insect hatches that happen throughout spring and summer; [the expansion] could have a significant impact on the fishing.” – Joe Hemming, President of the Anglers of the Au Sable

With the final outcome of the proposed expansion still unknown, Hemming and other advocates for the Au Sable and Manistee watersheds know that the fight for the conservation of the land and water is not over. As the Anglers of the Au Sable celebrates its 35th anniversary this week, it is sure to be a key issue moving forward. 

Read the Anglers of the Au Sable’s letter to DNR Director here.

Mining Legislation Must Embrace Circular Economy

As the move towards renewable energy and electrification accelerates, manufacturing new energy infrastructure must as well. Some of the elements required for the manufacturing of things like solar panels, electric batteries and computer chips require mining to produce. 

An old mine shaft in the UP has been safely sealed and converted into a space conducive to bat habitat.

House Bills 6218, 6220, 6254, 6255, 6257, 6258, 6388, and 6403 were heard in House Natural Resources last week. Overall, the bills focus on streamlining the permitting for mining operations in Michigan, funding research for its expansion, and improving inspection of existing mines.  

Historic mine equipment residing on a river in the Porcupine Mountains.

The bill package has a series of positive and negative aspects, including both funding for EGLE to expand the inspection of legacy mines and for industry to partner with university researchers to expand mining activity. However, the package’s biggest flaw is that it is focused on the mining of virgin materials, rather than recycling, design, and other approaches that will connect Michigan mining sector expertise to the circular economy. 

A view from the top of a legacy tailings pile,  the mountain of material pictured here is just one of many scattered across the UP. Some pose environmental hazard, and may yet offer up more ore as mining tech improves.

Not only must we work to prevent the environmental impacts of mining practices in Michigan, but we should maximize the reuse and recycling of materials before virgin materials are extracted.

Historic mine shaft openings, now filled with dirt, cover the forest floor.

Michigan LCV will be engaging this legislation and working to amend it for a more balanced focus that recognizes the need to better use the materials we have already extracted from the ground. 

Quick Hits!

Legislature Passes Pre-Processing Bills Ahead of November Election

Last week, the legislature approved four bills that will allow the pre-processing of ballots from drop boxes and mail two days ahead of Election Day.  

Rep. Albert Resigns, Cites Budgetary Disagreements

State Representative Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) abruptly resigned from his position as chair of the House Appropriations Committee during session last week, citing “deep disagreements” with increased government spending in Michigan’s year-end supplemental budget. Shortly thereafter, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon tweeted her support for the departing budget chair. Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) will take his place. 

Help Us Reach a Conservation Majority in Michigan!

Michigan LCV needs you to help us achieve a conservation majority in the Michigan Legislature. Join us at one of our next canvasses! 

Canvass for Veronica Klinefelt for State Senate

Oct. 4 from 1 – 3 pm

Farmington Hills, MI

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