National forest in peril


To the Editor:

Most of us have heard of the Paris Climate Action Accord. But as we talk with others, we find that hardly anyone knows that our National Forest is being targeted for destruction in the name of so called green energy.

Iberdrola, a Spanish global energy giant that has recently merged with a Connecticut utility and changed its name to Avangrid, is well on the way to destroying two ridgelines in Searsburg and Readsboro.

Current data shows that forty different bear use just one of these ridgelines. Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources opposed the Deerfield Wind project through the Public Service Board process. The PSB approved the project in a split 2 - 1 decision in 2009.

The current Searsburg wind towers measure 197 feet. The Deerfield proposal would erect fifteen towers 417 feet tall in our National Forest, less than two miles from the George D. Aiken Wilderness. This would require five miles of industrial upgraded roads through the forest (over a million square feet) and include blasting numerous cuts in the rock, up to 25 feet. This sets a dangerous precedent for other National Forest areas. This is public land, our land, being turned over to private enterprise.

My husband and I have hiked the George D. Aiken Wilderness, a land that provides habitat for many diverse animals and birds, including beaver, bears, moose, deer and otters, along with many smaller mammals and trout filled ponds. The organization, Leave No Trace, encourages visitors to follow certain principles when visiting this special area which included respect for wildlife. "Do not disturb wildlife for plants just for a 'better look'."

We observed bear scarred trees and tracks of many of these animals. The organization, Leave No Trace, encourages 7 principals based on science. One principal stresses the fact that quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals.

Senator Aiken understood the importance of preserving unspoiled wilderness and secured the Eastern Wilderness Act of 1975. His mission was to provide opportunities for solitude and a retreat from the modern world. With the exception of a few specific areas, motor vehicles including helicopters are prohibited. The Wilderness Act of 1964 requires national forest wildernesses to limit human impacts that insures "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness."

Turbines that are 417 feet tall will spoil this special wilderness with noise and visual pollution. The U.S. Forest Service seems to have forgotten their own mission and issued a Special Use permit allowing the destruction of two ridgelines too close to the Aiken Wilderness. Our land and its wildlife need a voice.

Dr. M. Sanjayan, Executive Vice President of Conservation International, recently reported that they think strong language protecting our forests will bring nature's voice to the table. He indicated that "Nature is Speaking" and protecting our forests amounts to 30 percent of the solution to climate change.

Our governor, The U.S. Forest Service and agencies put in place to protect our ecology are moving us in the opposite and wrong direction.

Now is the time to get involved.

Kathy Hepburn Halford



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