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Maine groups oppose proposed Redington wind-power project

FALMOUTH -- On Wednesday, June 7, Maine's Land Use Regulation Commission accepted four Maine conservation organizations' interventions in opposition to the Redington wind power project that is proposed for Western Maine.... Maine Audubon, the state's largest wildlife conservation organization, joins the Appalachian Mountain Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Maine Appalachian Trail Club in opposing this project.

The project involves the construction and installation of 30-wind turbines atop the Redington Pond and Black Nubble Range. Some of which will be as close as approximately four-miles from Sugarloaf Mountain and highly visible from the Rangeley Lakes Region, Eustis and the many parts of our scenic corridors and mountain tops.

Maine Audubon, the state's largest wildlife conservation organization, joins the Appalachian Mountain Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Maine Appalachian Trail Club in opposing this project.

The Natural Resource Council has also formed a position regarding the project as proposed and is soon to release its standings.

On a more local level, a group called Friends of the Western Mountains has collected close to 2,000 signatures in opposition to the project.

“The positions taken by these four very prominent national and regional groups should convince the commissioners that the proposal should be denied,” said Dr. Dain Trafton. Trafton is a Phillips resident and founder of Friends of the Western Mountains. “In fact, I’m not aware of any significant conservation group that is supporting this proposal. They all seem to recognize that Redington and Black Nubble are the wrong places for such a project and that the benefits will not out way the harm done to the area,” Trafton added.

Maine Audubon, AMC, ATC and MATC all recognize the need... [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The project involves the construction and installation of 30-wind turbines atop the Redington Pond and Black Nubble Range. Some of which will be as close as approximately four-miles from Sugarloaf Mountain and highly visible from the Rangeley Lakes Region, Eustis and the many parts of our scenic corridors and mountain tops.

Maine Audubon, the state's largest wildlife conservation organization, joins the Appalachian Mountain Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Maine Appalachian Trail Club in opposing this project.

The Natural Resource Council has also formed a position regarding the project as proposed and is soon to release its standings.
 
On a more local level, a group called Friends of the Western Mountains has collected close to 2,000 signatures in opposition to the project.

“The positions taken by these four very prominent national and regional groups should convince the commissioners that the proposal should be denied,” said Dr. Dain Trafton. Trafton is a Phillips resident and founder of Friends of the Western Mountains. “In fact, I’m not aware of any significant conservation group that is supporting this proposal. They all seem to recognize that Redington and Black Nubble are the wrong places for such a project and that the benefits will not out way the harm done to the area,” Trafton added.

Maine Audubon, AMC, ATC and MATC all recognize the need and benefits of wind-power in the northeast and generally have not opposed other wind-power projects in the region.
However, the groups feel that compared to other potential wind-power sites in Maine, the proposed Redington site puts at excessive risk a number of ecological, recreational and scenic resources of state and national significance. 

According to the groups’ news release, “After over a decade of trying to encourage the developer to consider alternatives to this particularly sensitive site, the developer's recent application to LURC left the four organizations little recourse but to formally oppose the project.”

The project is proposed by Maine Mountain Power, LLC, a joint venture of California and Maine-based companies.

According to the press release, “part of the project would be sited on Redington Pond Range, fragmenting and diminishing one of the largest roadless areas in the state. Seventeen rare species are among the diverse plants and animals this area supports. They include the mountain bird Bicknell's thrush, a ‘species of concern’ identified by multiple wildlife agencies as a high-level conservation priority, and six other species that could suffer direct, negative impacts from building and operating the wind-power project.” 

The groups also say that in this area is a rare subalpine forest mapped by the Maine Natural Areas Program and identified by the state's environmental organizations as high priority for land conservation.

The four conservation organizations were granted intervener status and are concerned that building and operating the proposed wind-power project would fragment the landscape, damage fragile high-elevation vegetation, and diminish the forest's value as wildlife habitat.
In addition to 30 turbines rising over 400 feet above the ground and lit at night, the project would include 12.5 miles of new roads constructed primarily on steep slopes, as well as over 10 miles of transmission lines that would further impact the wild area.
 
"Wind power and habitat protection are not at odds: Maine can have both," said Jody Jones, Maine Audubon wildlife ecologist, "and Maine Audubon wants to help Maine have both. But there are a handful of areas in Maine where wind power should not be located, and the Redington Pond Range is one of them."

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Maine Appalachian Trail Club also are concerned that the proposed project would lessen the scenic quality of one of Maine's most remote and spectacular mountain regions, severely compromising the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that wraps for almost 50 miles around the proposed development site, at times as close as a mile and a half.

"The proposed project would have a significant, unavoidable negative impact on the backcountry experience of those who use the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, an important part of the National Park System," said J.T. Horn, New England director for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. "Every major summit vista would be impacted along a 50-mile section of the Appalachian Trail -- a week's worth of hiking -- between Saddleback Mountain and the Bigelow Range."

"This area is one of the richest in Maine for ecological, recreational and scenic values of state and national significance. It has the largest concentration of Maine's highest mountains and some of the state's most remote terrain," said Dr. David Publicover, senior staff scientist of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Trafton added, “It is worthy to note that there are two smaller, but important environmental groups that are opposed to this project: Friends of the Bigelows and Friends of the Boundary Mountains.”

LURC hearings on the application are expected to take place the end of July or beginning of August in Carrabassett Valley.


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JUN 14 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3081-maine-groups-oppose-proposed-redington-wind-power-project
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