All too often I hear an enthusiastic statement that wind generators will replace the power plant and become the singular source of our energy supply. Despite what the infrequent visitor to western Kansas may think, the wind does not always blow. Consumers want to turn on the television or do the wash at any time, illustrating that the demand for electricity is present even when the wind is not blowing.
Scientists compare the environmental importance of the tallgrass prairie to that of the rainforest. Its roots act as a carbon sink, cleansing the air of pollution. Its plants and limestone soils purify rainwater. Per acre, it provides more environmental benefits than any other ecosystem in North America.
With increasing resistance to wind turbine industrialization in Europe and other U.S. states, it makes no public policy sense to allow the Flint Hills to be ripped up while people throughout the world voice concern about the negative impact of industrial wind turbines on the general health and welfare of inhabitants.
There is less than 4% of native tallgrass prairie left in North America, and two-thirds of it is right here. Once you have experienced the spaciousness and exceptional beauty of open native grasslands, you know there is nothing in the world quite like it. These native grasslands are truly a national as well as a Kansas treasure.
there are few if any places in the entire Midwest more worthy of preservation as an example of the great Midwestern prairie than those Wabaunsee County vistas
Money will not purchase balm for our eyes or salve for the spirit: a place of beauty provides these. The Flint Hills provides.
He had been charmed by the spirit of our grassland, and kept coming back.
We should not let wind power's "green" image trick us into abandoning the principle that some places and some species should be saved for their own sakes. We should reject the argument that everything must be "useful," that every place and every aspect of life should be commercialized.
Although my research started with the visual and spatial aspects of WECSs, and continues to be focused on WECSs effects on “landscape character” i.e. impacts on the spatial environment, with implications for cultural values and social systems of our region. I am equally concerned about the predictable negative effects of WECSs on the natural systems of the Flint Hills. I am concerned about serious cumulative effects and the degradation of:
the visual character of our environment;
the social fabric of communities that are facing the prospect of WECS-C;
the health of biological, ecological components of our regional ecosystem; and the
long term viability of our local, increasingly “nature-based” economy.
Manhattan and Riley County certainly have legitimate governmental interests in the development of the corridor, the promotion of tourism and protection of the tallgrass prairie.
Consider this: We could be looking at 1,000 or more wind turbines taller than the Statue of Liberty on the high ridges of the Flint Hills, and they would contribute only about one-tenth of 1 percent of our current electricity use. That simply isn't worth the destruction of our unique Tallgrass Prairie land resource.
The benefits of wind farms are dubious and undemonstrated. Going headlong into the business of wind farming, either for the revenue or the energy, is less than responsible.
What's the matter with Kansas? For one thing, The Wichita Eagle.
Resolving Our Cultural Identity Crisis: Agriculture vs. Environment
"...this concept of preserving land in private hands has become a great theme of our region. Our Flint Hills culture has rested on this principle: that we want our land to remain agriculturally productive in private hands, namely producing high quality beef cattle, at the same time we preserve the Flint Hills much as they were hundreds of years ago."
Promoters of the wind energy craze, absentee landowners and a few locals hoping for a windfall are about to destroy the soul of the Flint Hills.
The study pointed out that when a community focuses on tourism as a strategy for economic vitality, it is important that they coordinate tourism and other economic development activities. Weak or non-existent planning and zoning, polluting industries, etc. can lower the visitors’ impression and the likelihood of repeat visits. Furthermore, that essential word of mouth advertising, so wonderful when everything works well, can work against a community that fails to keep up its appearance and its offerings (YNG study).
The Sacred Hills, by Don Coldsmith, a Bantam Books
paperback, copyright 1998. Courtesy Protect The Flint Hills website.
For whatever reason, perhaps because we feel closer to the divine or perhaps from a hill we can see farther and with greater clarity, human beings of all cultures seem spiritually drawn to high places. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help,” sang the psalmist: for Looks Far that statement was literally true. It was from a hilltop that the bison stampede both destroyed his enemies and provided winter food for his tribe. More important, it was the Sacred Hills that brought together, for the first time, two warring tribes; love for land proved stronger than human animosities. The Flint Hills were indeed a holy place for the People.