AUGUSTA The Maine Army National Guard was selected as the winner in the 2022 Secretary for the Army Environmental Award, Natural Resources Conservation in the Under 10,000-acre Installation award category.
As a winner, the guard will compete as the Army’s nominee for the 2022 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards in the same category.
Maine’s selection stems from significant efforts over the past two years to facilitate the creation of an over 5,400 acre training site, while balancing development objectives with the protection of over 1,000 acres of wetlands and critical habitat for endangered species such as the Atlantic salmon and Canada lynx, according to a news release from the guard.
“There has been a tremendous amount of effort put into this gradual project to bring a state-of-the-art military training facility to Maine,” said Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham, Maine’s adjutant general. “All parties involved our environmental and training sites staff, state and federal interagency partners, our facilities directorate, and units that have aided in construction all have a great deal to be proud of.”
The project started in 2013 with a bond to purchase significant acreage in T2R9 NWP. Additional land was purchased in Woodville. Recent accomplishments include a complete environmental assessment and all associated permits, public forums, construction of a 25-meter range for small arms and light demolitions, multi-purpose operation buildings, and significant work on a battalion sized encampment area. Also, replacement of seven miles on the original network of old log roads.
“With continued developments, the Woodville Training Site will significantly improve the Maine Army National Guard’s ability to train soldiers to meet their federal mission by reducing the amount of travel units do to out-of-state ranges,” said Lt. Col. Shanon Cotta, who oversees the Maine Army National Guard’s training sites. “Essentially, less travel for drill equates to more training time for the individual soldier.”
New qualification standards have mandated that Maine units be required to travel to range facilities at Fort Devens (Massachusetts), Camp Ethan Allen (Vt.) and Gagetown (New Brunswick) among other locations.
The organization’s in-house efforts for both fiscal stewardship and soldier training opportunities are also notable. The Maine National Guard used small-scale project funding in addition to sustainment, repair, and modernization funds (SRM) instead of military construction (MILCON). As part of their annual training, the Maine National Guard has also used substantial amounts of funding to support small-scale projects. This provides soldiers with relevant training opportunities and helps to improve the training area.
“Recent annual training accomplishments have included roadwork and culvert placement, as well as construction of four multi-purpose buildings,” said Cotta, who also serves as commander of the Brunswick-based 133rd Engineer Battalion. “We have plans to construct an additional four buildings this summer.”
The Maine Army National Guard will continue to develop the site to include more permanent infrastructure and expand the newly constructed 25-meter range up to a 1500-meter range for training to new Army small arm standards as well crew-served weapons.
The organization intends to keep the same environmental discipline in the future.
“It’s important because we’re a community-based organization,” Farnham continued. “And just like our neighbors, we grew up enjoying the Maine outdoors and its sporting and recreational traditions. So it’s important to us that as we continue this project, one that is critically aligned with the readiness of our service members, that we do so in a conservation-minded way. We’re committed to being good neighbors to both the people and the land of Penobscot County.”