The Maine National Guard takes its mission to be "Always Ready" to support our state and nation extremely seriously, and in order to do that, we need to constantly provide quality training for our people. Existing training facilities in Maine cannot host battalion-sized units or the full suite of required demolition, rifle and machine gun training. Thus, Soldiers must travel excessively out of state to conduct required training. The time spent traveling to out-of-state training sites negatively impacts the amount of time available to train Soldiers. The Maine Army National Guard (MEARNG) plans to develop, operate, and maintain a light demolition range (LDR), a modified 25-meter rifle range, approximately 8 miles of heavy maneuver corridor, support structures, and increase aviation operations by 10% at the T2R9/Woodville Training Site to support a long-term goal of hosting battalion-level (approximately 640 Soldiers) individual and collective training on all assigned small arms weapon systems. This is a significant undertaking requiring a great deal of planning, coordination and attention to environmental requirements. Please continue reading to learn more about the current status of this project.
The Woodville Training Site is located in Township T2 R9 NWP and the Town of Woodville, Maine, east of Interstate I-95 and approximately 8 miles north of Lincoln and 8 miles south of Medway.
The approximately 5,400-acre training site is owned by the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management (DVEM) for use by the Maine Army National Guard (MEARNG).
Eventually, the centerpieces of the Woodville Training Site will be two live-fire weapons training ranges in Township T2 R9 NWP: A 25-meter rifle and machine gun range and a Light Demolitions Range (LDR). The 25-meter Range will consist of 32 firing positions, targets and an earthen berm.
Pictured here is an example of an Army 25-meter range (not Woodville):
The Light Demolitions Range (LDR) will consist of five, three-sided earthen berms and two concrete observation bunkers. Pictured here is a typical Light Demolitions Range (not Woodville):
MEARNG will conduct live-fire training during select hours between 8 A.M. and 10 P.M., from May through October during monthly drill weekends and during unit annual trainings. Each unit conducts a 15-day annual training period typically in June, July or August.
In addition to these ranges, the initial plans for the Woodville Training Site includes:
- Approximately 8 miles of renovated/expanded gravel roads and approximately two miles of unsurfaced “trails” that would host convoy, maneuver, recovery, and counter-improvised explosive device training using MEARNG’s full suite of ground vehicles.
- Multiple support structures including parking and camp sites (“bivouac areas”) for 640 Soldiers and their equipment.
- Land Navigation compass courses through the woods.
In addition, MEARNG will conduct helicopter-training overflights of the Woodville Training Site as our helicopters travel their traditional flight paths between the Bangor, Millinocket and Lincoln airports.
Integrated Land Use
Training and construction at Woodville Training Site is planned and designed to balance the dual goals of providing Maine and the Nation with a trained and ready force while also minimizing our impact on natural resources and the surrounding community. The Army calls this “integrated training sites management”. MEARNG considers how our actions might affect:
Wildlife and Endangered Species
Wetlands, Surface and Ground Water
The local economy
- MEARNG considers how those resources might affect our actions.
When making plans, MEARNG engages with regulators (e.g., Maine DEP, Maine IF&W, Maine LUPC, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) and the local community and incorporates their input.
At the heart of this integrated management is planning and data.
MEARNG, regulators and the community cannot make informed decisions about land use without data. MEARNG conducted multiple studies and surveys to build and maintain an inventory of site data to support planning, and will continue to monitor the site to re-evaluate our impact over time.
MEARNG embraces our obligation to conserve, maintain and enhance the Federally-listed Threatened and Endangered Species present in the area:
- Canada lynx
- Northern Long-eared Bat
- Atlantic salmon
To do this, MEARNG uses a broad ecosystem management approach where management of natural resources (e.g., soils, wetlands, and wildlife) takes place on a community level, rather than a species-specific or resource-specific level, to help to contribute to regional biodiversity enhancement, rather than enhancement of a single resource or species. By managing the Woodville Training Site holistically, the resulting habitat should provide services for the whole range of Maine wildlife, not just the rare, threatened and endangered species.
Caption: Maine Army National Guard consults with US Fish & Wildlife Service and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife on Canada Lynx.
The MEARNG consults with the USFWS and MEIFW to manage rare, threatened and endangered species while developing and operating a military training site. The federally threatened Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) seen at the Woodville Training Site hunting its favorite food, the Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). Canada lynx are dependent upon healthy hare populations and healthy hare populations depend on quality habitat.
Caption: The weasel family is well represented at Woodville Training Site. The weasel family (Mustelids) seen here utilizing various aspects of the site. Clockwise from top left: American Marten (Martes americana), Fisher (Pekania pennant), North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis), Long-tailed Weasel in winter coat (Mustela frenata), Short-tailed Weasel in winter coat (Mustela erminea) with meadow vole.
Caption: Stream Smart bridge construction improves water quality in Atlantic Salmon Critical Habitat
Using “Stream Smart” techniques to model stream flow and construct a bridge of appropriate size helps preserve flow characteristics of the stream to minimize disturbance. This helps reduce sediment transport, maintain stream bed structure and prevent wash out during flood events. It also improves fish and wildlife passage through the road crossing,
Starting in the fall of 2020 to 2021, the Maine Army National Guard will invest over 3 million dollars in the next two years to the local economies by constructing:
- Stream Smart Bridge constructed in 2020 to allow vehicles to travel across the stream habitat in a safe and ecologically responsible manner.
- 3.3 miles of road construction to support troop movement
- 9 Acres of tree clearing to facilitate bivouac construction planned.
- Training Site Operations Building will improve environmental and operational management and oversight.
- 25-Meter Range used for small arms weapons familiarization.
Contingent upon an additional funding in 2021, a Light Demolition Range (LDR) is planned to support reserve component engineers and one of the four bivouac and unit staging areas is planned.
MEARNG is active in the Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes Region, including frequent aviation training at the Millinocket and Lincoln Airports since the 1970’s and collaborating to support maintenance and search and rescue activities at Baxter State Park. As we increase our presence in the area, MEARNG is committed to being a good neighbor and building positive, lasting relationships.
Our efforts will include:
- Training Awareness – Notices of live fire to the Towns of Woodville and Chester
- Increasing Economic Opportunity – Construction and Support Services
- Transparent Land Use Planning and Permitting – Public Notice and Public Comment, Early Regulator Engagement
MEARNG has made a major commitment to the Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes Region and the Woodville Training Site. Over time, MEARNG plans to expand or adapt the Woodville Training Site to meet the Army’s training mission as it changes over time.
Currently, MEARNG is evaluating development for:
- The construction of a vehicle operator area that would allow the licensing of heavy engineer and transportation equipment for operators.
- A cantonment area, which is a temporary field barracks for training Soldiers.
- Increasing the length of the 25-Meter Range to a formal Qualification Training Range (QTR), 1500 meters in length (~5,000 feet) to allow standard individual and crew-served weapons qualification.
The MEARNG is seeking funding to construct projects to ensure our Maine Army National Guard Soldiers are always prepared and ready to serve the people of the State of Maine and our country.
Potential range was discussed in our MEDEP permit and Environmental Assessment, but each of these actions will result in another round of regulator and public engagement before they are approved.
Please contact the MEARNG Public Affairs Office with any questions or concerns that you may have. You may reach us by phone at (207) 626-5759 or by clicking here to email us.