Campground To Gravel Pit
The Michigan Crossroads Council of the Boy Scouts of America has decided to sell Silver Trails Scout Reservation, a 270-acre camp along the west side of Black River about 2 miles west of Jeddo, Michigan. Details are yet to be confirmed, but a BSA official said the pending buyer is a company related with Dan’s Excavating, Inc. or Ajax Paving, Inc. and would mine the entire camp for gravel. The current agreement with the company may be binding, or a commitment to sell with terms contingent on soil testing results and other items. The gravel company has already conducted soil borings. A possible sale price was said to be $1.8 million. There is no indication that the Michigan Crossroads Council notified any local unit of government, organization, scouters, or other parties that might want to protect the camp. Instead, the Michigan BSA has apparently determined that a gravel pit is the only future for Silver Trails.
For over a half-century, Silver Trails was owned locally by the former Blue Water Council, serving Saint Clair and Sanilac Counties. In 2012, the council was dissolved in a consolidation of the entire lower peninsula of Michigan. The new Michigan Crossroads Council took Silver Trails and has owned it for only about 7 years. In truth, however, Silver Trails is not really their land, but a product of our community and rightfully ours. The camp was established in 1945 on parcels that were sold for $1 to the former Blue Water Council. The land was essentially donated by these owners for the betterment of our community. The local Exchange Club built the main gate in 1945 and local Rotary Clubs donated and built the Rotary Lodge or Mess Hall in 1948. For 67 years, local scouts, scouters, volunteers, and organizations maintained and improved Silver Trails. Thousands of hours of work and thousands of dollars were invested in the camp by local people in the Blue Water Council.
Thousands of area youth have camped at Silver Trails and participated in many programs and events like summer camps, cub day camps, polar bear camps, klondikes, camporees, conclaves, and much more. Many area scouts have worked on camp staff. BSA consolidation in Michigan was promoted as a means to improve the scout program at local levels, but has instead decreased camp opportunities for our youth, soon to be eliminated with Silver Trails sold and graveled. The Michigan Crossroads Council has sold at least 5 other camps in Michigan since 2012, and national BSA many more across the US.
For many of us, Silver Trails is one of the most beautiful places in the world, located along high bluffs above the Black River where Silver Creek winds through mature forest and other small streams cut through deep shaded ravines. If you have not stood in the old-growth forest north of Silver Creek on a late summer afternoon as woodland birds call across the glowing cathedral of Hemlock, Beech, and Sugar Maple trees, you are deprived. Silver Trails is truly irreplaceable.
Efforts are underway to work with Grant Township and other organizations to buy the camp.
How You Can Help
Your efforts on behalf of Silver Trails are still very important. Public attention and political pressure are needed to convince those in control that Silver Trails is truly a priority for our community.
So please, if you have not already, contact your Saint Clair County Commissioner, Michigan State Representative, and Governor.
Click the link below for the contact information for these individuals.
The PayPal link makes donating by debit, credit, or PayPal easy. Donations are tax-deductible and will be used for acquisition of Silver Trails or as otherwise determined by Friends of Silver Trails. Three scouters so far will donate $1,000 each if 50 others donate at least the same. If every petition signer gave $100, we'd have almost $500,000.
If you can think of any potential lenders to this effort, please forward a contact or call. A significant loan or loans from multiple sources could allow us to negotiate acquisition of Silver Trails. Lenders would be replenished from grant funds to the Township, County, and/or conservancy.
To donate, click the Donate button below to be taken to our PayPal donation interface to make your donation.
Silver Trails Project Webpage at Thumb Land Conservancy
You can also visit the Silver Trails Project webpage on the Thumb Land Conservancy website. This project was defined 10 years ago as a future opportunity to preserve land intended for public use for future generations. Thumb Land Conservancy is a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization working to preserve natural areas in the Thumb of Michigan.