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State may purchase section of township camp

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February 13, 2013 - Groveland Twp.-Named for Tamarack Hills Farms and purchased in 1950 by the United Jewish Charities, Camp Tamarack incorporates more than 1,400 acres of township wilderness near Perryville Road and attracts more than 15,000 visitors each year.

The township camp, which turned 60-years-old last year, may soon be just a little smaller.

Representatives of the United Jewish Foundation and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources gathered on Monday night during the township board of trustees meeting to discuss selling 290 acres of the camp.

"Part of the reason the (Grange Hall Road) property was purchased was to create a buffer near the camp," said Steve Engel, Fresh Air Society-Tamarack Camps executive director. "In offering the property to the state it will remain unchanged and natural. The funds will be used to improve the infrastructure of the camp."

Jennifer Olson, of the DNR public land matters biologist field resources management section, said funding for the sale will come from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to provide a source of money for the public acquisition of lands for resource protection and public outdoor recreation. Funding was derived from royalties on the sale and lease of state-owned mineral rights.

The amount offered for the property was not discussed.

"The state requires local support for the purchase," said Olson. "The property must be maintained for public outdoor recreation to receive the funding. There must be an ecological value to the community, too. The only possible changes are for the addition of a small parking lot just off Grange Hall Road so visitors can have easier access."

The application must be made by March and in December the MNRTF will make a recommendation to purchase the property. Then, during the spring of 2014 the Michigan Legislature will have to approve the transaction.

Olson did not comment on if the mineral rights were going to be sold along with the property or remain with United Jewish Foundation.

"Understand the concern on the mineral rights," said Bob DePalma, township supervisor. "We have no public water in the township, all residents utilize private wells. About a quarter of the township is state-owned and a company purchased the mineral rights for just about every acre. Any drilling that may cause contamination of ground water would be a catastrophe."

Camp Tamarack includes two programs—outdoor education open to the public for community groups, for school age groups, families all designed for kindergarten through the corporate level. Then for 10 weeks between mid-June and mid-August the camp is closed for regular summer camp.

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