AUBURN — The group studying how to balance recreational uses at Mt. Apatite Park with the Maine National Guard’s Auburn training site is asking for residents’ opinions about the guard and its soldiers.

The 24-question survey asks opinions about the Guard, its facilities and what the soldiers do there. It also asks about interactions with Guard soldiers around the park and around the city.

The group surveyed residents’ uses at the site earlier this year.

It’s currently home to the 344-acre Mt. Apatite Park city recreation area, covered with gemstone quarries, summertime hiking trails and winter cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails. It’s also home to the Auburn Suburban Little League’s team fields.

The Maine National Guard operates its training site there 270 days each year on 154 acres between the park and the Little League ball fields. Training activities include small arms and small unit tactics, chemical and biological defense, navigation, combat skills, heavy equipment operation and combat engineer operations.

The current survey is available at online survey hosts SurveyMonkey.com and is open to anyone 18 years or older.

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The information will be used to help create a master plan for the site, west of Garfield Road and north of Minot Avenue. The master plan will also look at road access, wetlands and potential site designs.

The soldiers and their equipment have to drive through the Little League parking area to reach the training site. Hikers and gem hunters have to walk through the Guard’s training site to reach the Mt. Apatite area.

The study looks to find better ways to balance those uses and perhaps provide better access to the area. It is being paid with a $149,998 grant from the Federal Office of Economic Adjustment.

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