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Residents divided over proposed wind farm

Judy Mattinson expressed horror at the idea of spoiling the "sweet, peaceful viewshed" of the escarpment with wind turbines. "I can't see how you can move forward without impacting the beauty" of the area, she said. "The damage will irrevocable and unavoidable. "Anybody who has not visited the mountain in the spring and seen the wildflowers ... can't know how beautiful it is," she continued. "And it won't be that way again."

ROCK SPRINGS -- Shirley Green thinks a proposed wind farm on White Mountain is a great idea that will make for a better future for generations of southwest Wyoming residents.

"We as a nation have to harness the wind and the sea and the sun ... we have to do it for our kids, our grandkids and our great-grandkids," Green told Bureau of Land Management officials.

"We're starting something here that's really going to be worthwhile down through the years," she added.

But Judy Mattinson expressed horror at the idea of spoiling the "sweet, peaceful viewshed" of the escarpment with wind turbines. "I can't see how you can move forward without impacting the beauty" of the area, she said. "The damage will irrevocable and unavoidable.

"Anybody who has not visited the mountain in the spring and seen the wildflowers ... can't know how beautiful it is," she continued. "And it won't be that way again."

The opinions about wind power development blew in all directions Wednesday during two public meetings here on the BLM's environmental study of the White Mountain Wind Energy Project.

As in several previous public meetings held during the past three years, residents seemed... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

ROCK SPRINGS -- Shirley Green thinks a proposed wind farm on White Mountain is a great idea that will make for a better future for generations of southwest Wyoming residents.

"We as a nation have to harness the wind and the sea and the sun ... we have to do it for our kids, our grandkids and our great-grandkids," Green told Bureau of Land Management officials.

"We're starting something here that's really going to be worthwhile down through the years," she added.

But Judy Mattinson expressed horror at the idea of spoiling the "sweet, peaceful viewshed" of the escarpment with wind turbines. "I can't see how you can move forward without impacting the beauty" of the area, she said. "The damage will irrevocable and unavoidable.

"Anybody who has not visited the mountain in the spring and seen the wildflowers ... can't know how beautiful it is," she continued. "And it won't be that way again."

The opinions about wind power development blew in all directions Wednesday during two public meetings here on the BLM's environmental study of the White Mountain Wind Energy Project.

As in several previous public meetings held during the past three years, residents seemed evenly split in their support of the proposed project.

Proponents contend the wind project would produce clean, renewable energy and provide much-needed jobs to the area.

"This is a wonderful idea and we're doing something for the future," resident Clay Devine said. "Oil and gas is not going to be here forever and we need to think about our kids and grandkids."

But detractors of the project expressed concerns about impacts to the recreational, cultural and particularly the viewshed resources on White Mountain.

"I don't want to be able to see those windmills from anywhere in Rock Springs," said Joe DeCora. "Locate them on the backside of Pilot Butte ... there's plenty of area there and you won't be able to see them."

Teton Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Lehi, Utah-based Tasco Engineering, seeks federal permission to construct up to 240 wind turbines on White Mountain that would annually produce approximately 1 million megawatt hours of electricity.

The mountain is a popular recreation area located near Rock Springs and Green River, just north of Interstate 80. The project area includes approximately 13,165 acres of private, public and state lands.

White Mountain is home to elk, deer, wild horses, sage grouse and numerous other wildlife species. The local landmark Pilot Butte sits atop the mountain and the county's Wild Horse Loop tour runs along the rim.

Gary Tassainer, president of Tasco, believes the mountain is an ideal site for wind power because of its high location, high wind energy potential, willing and supportive property owners from which to lease land, and the close proximity of power transmission lines.

"There are many benefits from this project ... there's revenue, there's jobs, it's environmentally friendly and cleaner than anything else out there today, there's no emissions and it should help reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Tassainer told residents.

Sage grouse areas

Officials noted there are about 515 acres of the project within areas identified by Wyoming as core habitat areas for sage grouse.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying whether the sage grouse should be listed for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. A decision on the proposed listing is expected next week.

Tassainer predicted a listing would have minimal impact on the White Mountain project.

He said only 10-12 of the proposed wind turbines would be located in the core sage grouse areas and they would be scrapped from the project if necessary.

BLM Rock Springs Field Manager Lance Porter said the agency is still studying the impacts to cultural resources, including historic trails and unique, sacred geologic features in the White Mountain area.

He said the BLM is drafting a "programmatic agreement" with several American Indian tribes and the state historical preservation office to address concerns about impacts to cultural resources.

"Now we're identifying those cultural resource values and what visual impacts there will be ... and then we'll come up with proposed mitigation measures to offset those impacts," Porter said.

The BLM's environmental assessment can be viewed at www.blm.gov. The agency is accepting public comment on the document through March 10.


Source: http://trib.com/news/state-...

FEB 26 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24806-residents-divided-over-proposed-wind-farm
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