Stones Ranch Military Reservation is a multi-use tactical training area for the Connecticut National Guard encompassing about 2,000 acres. It is the only Department of Defense-supported maneuver training site in the state of Connecticut and the only maneuver training area available to the Guard within the state. It consists of bivouac areas, a land-navigation course, 23-station confidence course, leadership reaction course, rappel tower, live-fire demolition range, bridge training facility, diesel fuel point with was rack, ammunition storage facility, 3 rotary-wing landing zones, a company-sized Tactical Training Base, a MOUT (Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain) facility, ground maintenance facility, and a 2,200 foot airstrip. Stones Ranch simultaneously supports the federal mission by hosting training for various units of the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as mission-specific training for SEAL Team 4, SEAL Team 10, Operational Detachment A/5234 of the 2d Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, and Port Security and Defense training for Navy personnel and contract security teams from Naval Submarine Base New London.
Stones Ranch is located in southeastern Connecticut within the towns of East Lyme, Old Lyme, and Lyme. The northern boundary of the installation abuts land owned by the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Portions of the Nehantic State Forest help limit compatible use concerns on the northwest and northeast corners of the installation.
The Army nominated Stones Ranch Military Reservation as a candidate for the Joint Land Use Study Program in May 2011 due to concerns about residential development along all four boundaries. In the Town of Old Lyme, two parcels of 33 acres and approximately 500 acres are approved for development along the southwestern boundary of the installation. Development on the smaller parcel was recently halted due to financial issues on the part of the developer. Development on the larger parcel has not yet begun, but the developer is approved for up to 50 house sites at this time. The Town also is interested in acquiring this parcel for conservation purposes.
In the Town of East Lyme, the area along Stones Ranch Road has seen recent residential development with more expected. The continued push of this subdivision up against the eastern boundary will create issues for military training. Further residential development here could limit the utility of the air strip by mandating training restrictions regarding the use of rotary-wing aviation.
Two goals of the JLUS are to protect the health, safety, and welfare of citizens living near Stones Ranch and to protect the operational and training mission of the base. The JLUS planning process will inform the installation staff on inclusion of the installation in the Army’s Compatible Use Buffer program. The JLUS effort also will include recommendations for regulatory and non-regulatory policies regarding compatible land uses and airspace capacity around Stones Ranch. The Town of Old Lyme will serve as the JLUS project sponsor with participation from the Towns of East Lyme and Lyme.