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Green, at any cost?

Today we are faced with many issues regarding the previous ecological misuse of our planet. In our mad dash to correct the maligning of our environment we are grasping at alternative sources of energy: mainly wind, solar and hydro. Wind power is the concern of this letter, and Harley Lee's project on the Redington Range is the center of that concern. I wonder if, in our rush to seek alternatives to foreign oil, we may be overlooking our most valuable local natural resources.

Today we are faced with many issues regarding the previous ecological misuse of our planet. In our mad dash to correct the maligning of our environment we are grasping at alternative sources of energy: mainly wind, solar and hydro. Wind power is the concern of this letter, and Harley Lee's project on the Redington Range is the center of that concern. I wonder if, in our rush to seek alternatives to foreign oil, we may be overlooking our most valuable local natural resources.

In Maine we have, by some claims, 14 peaks over 4,000 feet and eight of them are found in our Longfellow Mountain Range. The bulk of this range overshadows Kingfield, Eustis, New Portland, New Vineyard, Strong, Philips, Madrid, Rangeley and Carrabassett. It is, by most accounts, the "Heart of the Western Mountains." Redington Range, the location of the proposed wind turbines, sits at the center of these peaks.

Should these wind towers be built, they would exceed the highest peaks, dominating Sugarloaf, Abram, Crocker and Spaulding. It is the claim by wind entrepreneur, Harley Lee, that little will be seen from the surrounding towns. I'm not convinced. It is obvious that Eustis Ridge in Eustis would have a full view as well as... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Today we are faced with many issues regarding the previous ecological misuse of our planet. In our mad dash to correct the maligning of our environment we are grasping at alternative sources of energy: mainly wind, solar and hydro. Wind power is the concern of this letter, and Harley Lee's project on the Redington Range is the center of that concern. I wonder if, in our rush to seek alternatives to foreign oil, we may be overlooking our most valuable local natural resources.

In Maine we have, by some claims, 14 peaks over 4,000 feet and eight of them are found in our Longfellow Mountain Range. The bulk of this range overshadows Kingfield, Eustis, New Portland, New Vineyard, Strong, Philips, Madrid, Rangeley and Carrabassett. It is, by most accounts, the "Heart of the Western Mountains." Redington Range, the location of the proposed wind turbines, sits at the center of these peaks.

Should these wind towers be built, they would exceed the highest peaks, dominating Sugarloaf, Abram, Crocker and Spaulding. It is the claim by wind entrepreneur, Harley Lee, that little will be seen from the surrounding towns. I'm not convinced. It is obvious that Eustis Ridge in Eustis would have a full view as well as some areas in unorganized townships such as Madrid, Langtown and Dallas Plantation. It has been difficult to discern to what extent the other organized towns mentioned above will see these towers, but in some locations they all will see them. This is not the contention of Harley Lee but my concern here is to a certain bias in representing the facts.

On the other hand, Carrabassett resides so deeply in it's valley that Sugarloaf provides an umbrella effect, shielding the township from the unpleasant viewing of these towers, until one ascends Sugarloaf. Carrabassett, however, with Sugarloaf at the helm, is the largest beneficiary of this project. Does Carrabassett really need lower taxes? It is my understanding that it already has one of the lower tax rates in the state and due to previous annexations is already one of the largest townships in Maine. It becomes questionable whether this is about the environmental Green we need or the financial "green" that has gotten us in this predicament. It is a profit-first movement without regard to a carefully planned future direction that concerns me. It presents one of those situations, that we are becoming increasing familiar with, where a few benefit and many others pay the price.

Maybe we need to gauge Carrabassett's commitment to Green, or "doing their part," as I have heard said, and ask them to envision a string of these towers on the Bigelows. Then add to these towers blinking red lights to paint the night sky. Would we have any doubt to the public outcry in Carrabassett? It's a hot soup they would ask others to slurp down that they themselves wouldn't touch with a long wooden spoon.

With a view to our future, I have learned the hard way that I need to work with what is at hand. All too often I have proceeded in a direction without regard to resources and current flow. It becomes necessary to ask the question, is our direction industrial and urban or recreational and residential? The experience is kind of like paddling a canoe upriver, and if we go industrial, we work against the most precious natural resource with which we were gifted, our mountains.

To envision the future impact these wind farms could have on residential or recreational development, it might be worthwhile to look to New Hampshire and Vermont. In both of these states wind farms are almost non-existent. I would suggest that they recognize the recreational value of their mountains. It is a value that brings tourists from those crowded, crime-riddled areas to spend dollars there, and tourism is our number one industry as well. I find it hard to believe vacationers would travel to Western Maine to play among wind towers much less build a house in their view, when they could travel to the White or Green mountains and enjoy unobstructed beauty.

I have heard it said that these mountains are no longer pristine because Sugarloaf has already scarred the landscape, but in keeping with the paradigm I have put forth, it is recreational and has created much residential development. I have further heard questions raised about hikers and the lack of money they bring here. Once again, when one looks at New Hampshire, the argument falls apart. There is no doubt to the money that camping and hiking bring to New Hampshire. We just aren't there yet, and we can't get there if we burn the wood that constructs the house we live in. Treating our mountains as industrial platforms for towers is in opposition to their beauty. It's tantamount to spending our principal before it has had time to mature.

The golf course, carriage trail and new hut system in Carrabassett are examples of going with the current flow and working with our resources. These are winwin situations with visions rooted in a future that we know must come. While the wood industry has been a primary source of livelihood in this area, its days are numbered, and hasn't Plum Creek shown us that? Haven't they recognized that the value of wooded land is fast becoming recreational and residential? We are only seeing the beginning of this current flow and with each surge in the economy the prosperity recedes less and less.

There is no doubt that we need to diversify our energy sources, and it's not the viability of wind power I question; it is the desecration of our recreational future that I object to. When speaking of backyards, I often resent those who would expect others to put up with what they themselves won't. I often hear the divisive comment "not in my backyard." My problem here with Harley Lee's wind project is the lack of future perspective for our mountains and the simple fact it isn't in my backyard, it's in our front yard and the very best part of that!

As we look ahead to the legacy we leave the next generation, what price are we willing to pay for our mountains? Are we willing to "go green" at any cost?


Source: http://www.theirregular.com...

FEB 18 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19252-green-at-any-cost
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