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Military training site could be used for off-roading

1-119 Field Artillery raid exercise breaks CGJMTC round distance charge record at XCTC 2014, Camp Grayling, Michigan
Spc. Seth LaCount/U.S. Department of Defense
Pfc. Brent Kearns, assigned to gun two, Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 119th Field Artillery Regiment pulls the lanyard of the M777A1 howitzer after an artillery raid exercise that brought the cannon to firing point 630 at the 30 Complex on Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, Mich., July 17, 2014. This historic firing mission, during an eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise, set a distance and charge record and set a new standard for artillery firepower for the Michigan National Guard. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Seth LaCount, Michigan National Guard/Released)

The State of Michigan is considering allowing off-roading in a state forest that’s been off limits. That’s because the military uses it as a training area.

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
There are thousands of miles of trails and roads in Michigan's state forests and parks. Off-road vehicle drivers near Grayling would like to ride on the nearly 100 miles on land leased by the military.

Camp Grayling is a huge complex where National Guard units from Michigan and surrounding states train. The exercises also extend into nearby state forest land. Training can include heavy armor and artillery.

“The military, Camp Grayling, they lease the land. It's actually state owned land, but they lease it for training purposes,” said Matt Foster, assistant project manager for the Department of Natural Resources’ road inventory team.

There are nearly 100 miles of trails and roads in the forest. Off-road vehicle riders want to use them.

Camp Grayling and the state are proposing opening up the state forest to off-roaders when National Guard training is not taking place there. If the proposal is approved, there will be limits.

“Camp Grayling, when they're doing training in a certain area, they are going to close gates for people to know that they're not allowed past that point,” Foster said.

Signs will be posted and notices issued on Facebook and local radio stations when the forest roads are closed to recreational use.

The area could be open to four-wheelers next April.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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