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John Harrigan: Wind towers, tree-huggers, and trout in the pan

Last week came news that Fish and Game and the Appalachian Mountain Club had agreed not to contest the mitigation package proposed to make up for the wetlands and 58 acres of high country that will be affected by the roads and towers. This was a sorry day for New Hampshire's conservation community and is probably another good reason for circumventing the state's permitting procedure and instead moving to the federal level, the Army Corps of Engineers.

First, many thanks to readers far and wide for such interest in the massive wind-power project proposed for northern New Hampshire, and for taking the time to write, a response unprecedented in 35 years of writing this column. Visitors to UnionLeader.com were able to see the fast and furious comments that streamed in.

I didn't need to wade into this issue -- there are plenty of more fun things to write about. I did so because there has been scant news reporting on this project -- the biggest high-country development in New Hampshire's history, involving 33 towers 400 feet high along 6.5 miles of ridgeline; a massive road system; and mountainside scars visible for miles. Commentary seemed scarce to nonexistent, so in I went.

Some of the results were predictable. I've been accused of being a not-in-my-back-yard snob, even though the project is nowhere near my back yard. I've been charged with being anti-job in a depressed region, which it is, but which I am not (aside from construction work, the project will create seven jobs). And I've been accused of violating the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

First, many thanks to readers far and wide for such interest in the massive wind-power project proposed for northern New Hampshire, and for taking the time to write, a response unprecedented in 35 years of writing this column. Visitors to UnionLeader.com were able to see the fast and furious comments that streamed in.

I didn't need to wade into this issue -- there are plenty of more fun things to write about. I did so because there has been scant news reporting on this project -- the biggest high-country development in New Hampshire's history, involving 33 towers 400 feet high along 6.5 miles of ridgeline; a massive road system; and mountainside scars visible for miles. Commentary seemed scarce to nonexistent, so in I went.

Some of the results were predictable. I've been accused of being a not-in-my-back-yard snob, even though the project is nowhere near my back yard. I've been charged with being anti-job in a depressed region, which it is, but which I am not (aside from construction work, the project will create seven jobs). And I've been accused of violating the we're-all-in-this-together ethic by noting that the much-hyped "enough electricity to power 33,000 homes" is going out of here, as a drop in the bucket of the massive New England grid.

Last week came news that Fish and Game and the Appalachian Mountain Club had agreed not to contest the mitigation package proposed to make up for the wetlands and 58 acres of high country that will be affected by the roads and towers.

This was a sorry day for New Hampshire's conservation community and is probably another good reason for circumventing the state's permitting procedure and instead moving to the federal level, the Army Corps of Engineers. Word is that the federal Fish and Wildlife agency is nowhere to be seen or heard in the current deliberations because it thinks a federal permitting procedure and environmental impact statement are required, and thus doesn't want to be part of what's going on. This is exactly what John Lanier of Columbia, one of the Northeast's most respected wildlife biologists, said in his recent letter to the Army Corps' Rich Roach, and others are certain to follow.

My job in all this has been to move people to ask questions and challenge assumptions, which is only right in a project affecting such a significant piece of New Hampshire's landscape.

In the meantime, I've enjoyed being called a lot of things, tree-hugger among them, and I had fun with this on Peter St. James' WTPL show Friday morning. I do in fact hug trees, I said, and also kill them to build things and burn. And then we yucked it up, and talked about bright little brook trout, how beautiful they are alive and how fine they are in a frypan, but underlying all the banter was what's blowing in the wind.


Source: http://www.theunionleader.c...

MAR 1 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/19315-john-harrigan-wind-towers-tree-huggers-and-trout-in-the-pan
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