There are still 94 active leases in the Ottawa National Forest. 94 camps that 90 days after January 1, 2017 have to be removed. Or the United States Forest Service will remove them after that. 94 plus families whose traditions will go up in smoke or smashed into pieces.
Some camps are moveable. If you can and have a new piece of property to put it on, that’s great! I know it won’t be the same though. It’s all about location, location, location. The lucky few who could move theirs are “encouraged to work with the local District Ranger to discuss plans and make arrangements for any special or unique access needs.” Meaning if you need to cut down trees or improve trails to haul your camp out let them know. Maybe you can bulldoze a road 3 miles out to your camp!
The above statement comes from the letter sent out to leaseholders last week detailing the fact that the leases will expire Jan 1, 2017 and the USFS has no authority to extend them or issue any new lease. That once you have removed your camp and cleaned up the area you need to contact the Forest Service for an inspection and the lease to be closed. They want you to remove your camp so they don’t have to.
Letter is posted below.
My thoughts. The leases “close” on Jan 1, 2017. Why “close” it sooner. Enjoy one more deer season. I’ve heard this has been the decision of many camps. Do what you are going to do to your camp next winter. Burn it. Tear it down. Leave it stand for the Forest Service to remove. 90 days after the 1st anything left in the woods is USFS property. One can argue that if you leave your camp, the taxpayers will have to pay for the removal. I’ll gladly let my tax dollars go toward their removal. Probably better than some ways my tax dollars are spent. What about the tax dollars our counties will lose once these camps are gone?
One term of the lease is to maintain and keep the grounds around the camp clean. I know the USFS will uphold that term in their final inspection. So whatever you decide to do keep that in mind. If you burn it and leave the remains, cleaning up what you can, that should be fine. Do what you feel is best.
If by some miracle new permits are granted and the camps are allowed to stay. If someone with some authority takes up our plight and wins. What then? I can almost guarantee that if you “close” your lease they will not let you rebuild. Maybe the longer these camps stand the better chance they have. Or that could be wishful thinking.
Environmentalists in our local area have come out of the woodwork to express their opinion on our camps. They have contacted Senator Peters office as well. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. It’s when the opinion of one group is given more weight than the other there is a problem. I believe everyone should have an equal say in what happens with our public land.
These camp owners care about the environment. Probably more than the so-called “environmentalists”. These camp owners care about it and enjoy it, not from a distance, but up close and personal. That is the best way to enjoy nature. Not look at it from afar and treat it like a glass slipper. Those who oppose the camps don’t like the way we enjoy nature, our traditions or values. When you live in a town completely surrounded by 1 million acres of national forest what do you do? You use it. You enjoy it. The way you have for decades.
I’ll go back to the USFS argument that these camps are keeping the general public from accessing these small areas of the forest. I met a couple recently in Grand Rapids and the woman had never heard of the U.P. until she moved to Michigan. Who are we keeping out??? The people who don’t even know we exist. I believe they also mentioned they were part of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club by the way also doesn’t like our camps. I’m sure many members of environmentalist groups don’t know the U.P. exists but once they hear of our plight will say “oh no you can’t be in the woods!!” Woods they never knew of, never stepped foot in, never experienced “goin’ to camp” in.