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Camp Grayling land use information

State grants limited land use permit to Camp Grayling

The Michigan Army National Guard has been granted a land use permit for Camp Grayling military training activities in portions of the state forest. Camp Grayling officials requested the land use permit for the purpose of training soldiers to use electronic sensing systems.

The permit application was created, reviewed and approved under restrictions outlined in an April 2023 Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies.

Land use applications on state forest lands are reviewed by subject matter experts within the DNR to understand how the proposed activity will affect law enforcement, recreation, wildlife, fisheries and forest management. 

The permit allows low-impact activities between April 24 and Oct. 31, 2024. Activity shall be limited to approximately 8 participants and 2 vehicles for a given activity session.


The DNR in April 2023 declined a proposed 20-year lease of approximately 162,000 acres of state forest land to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Michigan Army National Guard. The decision followed a lengthy community input process and department review. The DMVA had sought to lease the land, located around the National Guard training camp in Grayling, to accommodate low-impact military training activities.

An initial review of the request found that most of the proposed lands were ineligible for such a lease because they are within buffer zones around bodies of water or were purchased with funds that prohibit activities planned by the National Guard. 

The remaining land, approximately 52,000 acres, could be available for short-term, low-impact training activities.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, an agreement between the DNR and the DMVA, the DMVA may apply for limited land use permits to conduct exercises on up to 52,000 acres of eligible land. Permit applications are evaluated by DNR staff. 

Key points in the Memorandum of Understanding: 

  • No long-term lease approved; military officials may annually apply for land use permits 
  • Training could occur on up to 52,000 acres of state managed forest land
  • Recreational access to remain at all times
  • The size of buffer zones around inland lakes and designated trout streams – where no military activity could take place – was doubled by DNR from 1,500 feet in the initial proposal to 3,000 feet in the Memorandum of Understanding
  • No live fire or use of tanks on these lands; no permanent fencing or structures