The Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge (7,750 acres) is located in northern Maine on part of the former Loring Air Force Base. The refuge was established in 1998 when land was transferred from the U.S. Air Force to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition to lands that were transferred from the military, the refuge manages more than 2,500 acres in conservation easements throughout northern Maine. The establishment of the refuge in the northern Maine highlights the importance of land conservation in an area dominated by industrial logging and agriculture, and provides the potential for additional land protection.
Loring Air Force Base served as a critical military facility throughout the Cold War. The Strategic Air Command was stationed at the base from 1950 to 1994 flying long-range bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Caribou Air Force Station located in the northeast corner of the site served as a top-secret, self-contained nuclear weapons storage base.
What was once a strategic military base for half of a century has now been restored to an ecologically diverse assemblage of federally protected lands in northern Maine. Extensive restoration of the site began immediately after the establishment of the refuge. Demolition of military buildings and cleanup of contaminated soils has taken place since the refuges establishment. The refuge manages lands to conserve and protect a diversity of native wildlife habitats and species. The Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge is the northern most National Wildlife Refuge in the northeastern United States.
Download the Aroostook factsheet (pdf)