Greenville, ME -- Late last week, Maine DOT personnel from the Rockwood and Shirley maintenance depots systematically removed yard signs along state roads throughout the Moosehead area. The signs, saying Save Moosehead/Say No to Wind, were distributed by volunteers with the Moosehead Region Futures Committee (MRFC) – a local, nonprofit organization educating area residents about two large industrial wind projects being proposed by SunEdison of Maryland Heights, MO and EverPower located in Pittsburgh, PA.
The majority of the signs were placed in front yards throughout the area. MRFC made sure they had permission from the homeowners before placing the signs. By Saturday, a few of the signs had been returned to MRFC. Local DOT personnel made it clear that all temporary, non-political signs on state roads must be placed 33 feet from the centerline of the road. When asked why they did this, DOT personnel said they got orders from Augusta to take down the signs. MRFC plans to re-install the signs in Greenville and Rockwood and will add more signs over the next few weeks. They plan to distribute more signs in the Jackman and The Forks as well – both areas will be impacted by the projects.
John Willard, owner of The Birches in Rockwood and President of MRFC was not pleased with MEDOT’s action. He states, “MEDOT could have contacted us before taking this action. Our web site address is on the signs. I’m curious as to why DOT decided to target our group, suddenly enforce the signage rules and leave other signs that did not comply in place. We suspect someone is trying to shut us down and called DOT. We’ve been warned by other wind groups to expect this type of backlash. I guess your First Amendment rights are forfeited when you fight a wind project. MRFC is about protecting our quality of place and our tourism industry - it’s the economic backbone of this region.”
Janet Chasse, a Greenville resident and a MRFC Board member was troubled when a friend called and alerted her to the signs being removed – “I’m stunned that they did this. These are small communities up here, everybody knows everybody. We’re concerned that industrial wind projects will damage the region’s economy and destroy its character forever. We want folks to understand they should have a voice in this decision. The local DOT folks had no choice -- they were just following orders – but is this the way we’re doing things in Maine today? Have we lost our right to protect our livelihoods and express our concerns? Is this what you get when the wind industry comes to town? I’m not going to let this intimidate me and I know MRFC is in this for the long haul.”
MRFC is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that has been active in the region for years. It was originally formed as a result of the Plum Creek Development Plan and was a key player in fighting the plan. During the final settlement talks, Plum Creek reserved the right to possibly allow wind development in the conservation easement negotiated in the settlement – specifically, the area that includes Misery Ridge west of Moosehead. The wind development provision was inserted in the final hours of the negotiations with little opportunity to discuss its impact or appropriateness for the area. MRFC was very vocal in their disapproval of this provision, but given the years of controversy and legal battles surrounding the Plum Creek Plan, the provision got pushed through.
John Willard believes, “The Plum Creek wind development provision is coming home to roost and with the addition of EverPower’s project industrial wind will be an even bigger threat to the economy of this area. When folks see the destruction of thousands of acres of ridgeline and the miles and miles of transmission lines going on over near Bingham, they want nothing to do with industrial wind in the Moosehead Region. Greenville is trying to revitalize the region’s tourism industry and working hard to rebrand Moosehead as America’s Crown Jewel. If we allow these monstrous 50 story wind turbines to be installed along the ridgelines west of Moosehead, you might as well call it the Crown of Thorns.”
For more information contact: John Willard or Richard McDonald
Founded in 2005, Moosehead Region Futures Committee’s mission is to encourage, gather and incorporate residents’ ideas and expertise to shape and balance the region’s future development, economy, and conservation efforts. MRFC, P. O. Box 164, Greenville Junction, ME 04442