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Oct 26, 22

The Base Among the Jack Pines: No Camp Grayling Expansion on Anishinabewaki

Announcing a new zine on the struggle to oppose the construction of a National Guard training facility at Camp Grayling in so-called Michigan.

Download and Print Zine PDF HERE

Camp Grayling is a Michigan Army National Guard training facility located at the headwaters of the so-called Au Sable River in Northern Lower so-called Michigan, on lands stolen from the Odawa and Ojibwa. At 230 square miles, it is the largest National Guard training site in the country – larger than the cities of so-called Detroit (139 sq. mi), so-called Grand Rapids (45 sq. mi), and so-called Lansing (37 sq. mi) together. The massive training facility is used not just by the Army and National Guard, but by police departments, private security forces, and foreign military units.

In Jan. 2022, the National Guard proposed an expansion of the land-use agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The new agreement would add an additional 250 square miles of National Guard base to the wetland forests of Northern Lower so-called Michigan. The expansion would bring the total size of the base to 490 sq. miles, twice the size of the city of so-called Chicago.

The military claims the massive land grab is to provide training space for emerging threats, requiring “immersive, multi-domain exercises which integrate land, air, maritime, cyber, and space domains over greater distances than those afforded with Camp Grayling’s current size. The newly proposed training areas, if approved, would be used for periodic low impact activities such as drone operation, cyber, electronic warfare, space, and communication system installation and operation.”

In addition to advancing new technologies, the Army and National Guard are also offering their training facilities to private companies. What’s known as the “National All-Domain Warfighting Center” includes the current 230 sq. miles of training space at Camp Grayling and 17,000 sq. miles of airspace over the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. These facilities are rented out to private companies hoping to test war-making technologies such as surveillance systems and weaponry.

Camp Grayling has already polluted the groundwater beneath so-called Grayling, MI. PFAS chemicals were first found in 2016 near the Army Airfield, on the northern half of the base. In 2019, the wells of 1,100 nearby homes were tested, and 300 of those samples tested positive for PFAS. The military only paid for 18 of these homes to have water rerouted from the municipal water supplies, while the other 282 are periodically given tap-filters by the city’s health department. Many residents feel abandoned, left to find their own solutions for their poisoned water. As recently as 2021, stormwater runoff from Camp Grayling into so-called Lake Margrethe was found to have 439ppt PFAS chemicals, over 6 times the EPA guidelines.

Both sites continue to operate dangerously close to two of the largest waterways in so-called Michigan, the so-called Au Sable and Manistee Rivers. Two rivers flowing opposite directions, one toward Naadowewi-gichigami (aka Lake Huron) and the other toward Ininwewi-gichigami (aka Lake Michigan). Two rivers separated only by a mile and a half wide portage just west of so-called Grayling. Hundreds of miles of cold shallow waters carrying generations of trout and perch upstream and then back down. Two rivers surrounded by vast wetlands carved out by retreating ice sheets, just like the Gichigamiin (aka the Great Lakes) themselves. Forests that are sprinkled with Hemlock, Yellow Birch, Black Spruce.

And the Jack Pine, where a tiny yellow-breasted bird makes its home in the base of the tree.

A Camp Grayling expansion is a bet on a future without the Kirtland’s Warbler or the Black Bear. It is a quiet, empty river that gets lower and lower each year until it finally dries up completely. It is a fighter jet that breaks the sound barrier and no one in the forest is startled, because no one is around to hear it. It is a bomb dropped thousands of miles away on relatives we have yet to meet, from a sky that is also without birds. Or from space, burning ocean and rock just to get there and look down on a faceless earth, wondering where to conquer next. It is an escalation by those who make war against those who don’t. We say “fuck no” to the Camp Grayling expansion and any expansion of the United States war machine.

against all empires
and for the steady streams and rivers
no soldiers in the forest
no space race on stolen land
no camp grayling
stop the military dystopia

photo: Chris Henry via Unsplash

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