AUGUSTA — The Maine Army National Guard has been selected as the winner of the 2022 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for 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.

A Canada lynx at Woodville Training Site is captured on game camera. Submitted photo

“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 began in 2013 with a bond to acquire significant acreage in township T2R9 NWP, followed by additional land in neighboring Woodville. Recent accomplishments include a full environmental assessment and all associated land use permitting, public forums, construction on a 25-meter small arms and light demolitions range, multi-purpose operations buildings, as well as significant work on a battalion-sized encampment area and replacement of seven miles of the original network of old logging 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.”

Advertisement

With new qualification standards, Maine units are frequently required to travel to range facilities in Fort Devens, Massachusetts; Camp Ethan Allen, Vermont; and Gagetown, New Brunswick among other locations.

The organization’s in-house efforts for both fiscal stewardship and soldier training opportunities are also notable. In lieu of military construction (MILCON) funding, the Maine National Guard utilized small-scale project funding along with sustainment, repair and modernization funds (SRM). In-state Army engineer assets have also performed considerable amounts of work as part of their annual training, providing relevant training opportunities for soldiers while continually improving 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 intends to continue developing the site to include more permanent infrastructure, and expanding the newly constructed 25-meter range to a 1500-meter range suitable for training to new Army small arms standards, as well as crew-served weapons.

The organization plans to maintain the same environmental discipline going forward.

“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.”

Soldiers from the 185th Engineer Support Company (Houlton & Presque Isle) work on the Seahut construction at Woodville Training Site during 2021 drill periods and annual training. Submitted photo