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    Source:  Les Starks, Palm Springs, California

    2400 Acre Windfarm Will Destroy the Scenic Beauty of Mt. San Jacinto and Snow Creek  

    Source:  Les Starks, Palm Springs, California | California, Letters

    One of the most breathtakingly beautiful mountain areas in the California desert at the western entrance of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is facing the very real possibility of being destroyed by a giant windfarm. This land is under the jurisdiction of The Riverside County Board of Supervisors, many of whom received large campaign contributions from windmill developers.

    The first letter below asks the city of Palm Springs mayor and city council for support for the preservation of the area (which is doubtful since all took large campaign contributions from local windmill developers).

    The second letter is my response to the EIR for the Devers Palo Verde 2 powerlines that Southern California Edison wants to hang over the westernmost ridgeline of the San Jacinto Mountains. It has some background information on the history of this development.

    If this project is approved it will set a really big precedent: 360Ft. windmills on top of the San Jacinto Mountains, 410 ft. high windmills placed directly in front of the spectacular Northern Face of Mt. San Jacinto at the very entrance to The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

    Les Starks, Palm Springs, Calif.

    The Palm Springs Mayor and City Council should be aware that the Riverside County Planning Dept. is currently processing Bill Adams’ (White Water Energy) proposal for WECS 118, a 2400 acre windfarm on land owned by Stephen Christensen between Snow Creek Road and the I-10 and extending up high into the San Jacinto Mountains. This will mean a large scale industrial windfarm directly behind the Palm Springs Hwy 111 exit sign on the I-10 freeway at the very entrance to the Palm Springs area. It will also mean an army of windmills in the San Jacinto Mountains and 410 ft. high windmills on flat land obscuring landmark views of the Northern Face of Mt. San Jacinto and the Snow Creek alluvial.

    It is my sincere hope that The City of Palm Springs will oppose this development which would put 51 windmills at the scenic western entrance of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and the front doorstep of Palm Springs that will rival the height of Casino Morongo.

    Some of the most beautiful land in the San Gorgonio Pass has been destroyed by windmills. The ancient vista of the Northern Face of Mt. San Jacinto and the Snow Creek alluvial is as important to Palm Springs as The Indian Canyons and shouldn’t be sacrificed for a sprawling power plant.

    If this development or any part of it is approved, other landowners will eventually sell out to windmill developers because the land will be worthless for any other purpose. Who would want build houses or live near 410 ft. high windmills?

    I am asking the city leaders of Palm Springs to please support the preservation of Mt. San Jacinto and the Snow Creek alluvial by strongly opposing this development.

    Sincerely, Les Starks

    The Devers Palo Verde No. 2 Alternative will compromise, seriously degrade and detract from the spectacular scenic beauty of the magnificent Northern Face of Mt. San Jacinto and the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and it will leave the Snow Creek area vulnerable to even greater degradation and visual blight by a proposed windmill development.

    I spoke to a representative from White Water Energy in Oct, 2004 regarding his company’s plan for a large scale windmill farm in the area between Snow Creek Road and the Interstate 10 Freeway extending up the western ridgeline of the San Jacinto Mountains following SCE’s existing power lines. He seemed certain that the Cabazon Ridge project would be approved after SCE’s new power lines were installed. He said he was confident that the Riverside County Board of Supervisors would approve his plan because there would already be a clutter of very high profile industrial structures on the San Jacinto Mountains’ westernmost mountaintop ridgeline anyway. When Enron Wind, the past leaseholder of the land, wanted to construct a 600 acre windmill farm in the same area in 2001, two of the Riverside County Planning Commissioners used the same argument, saying SCE’s existing power lines through the area have already significantly degraded the landscape, so why would windmills be so objectionable. If SCE adds even more high profile power lines, this argument will be used again by Riverside County and the Palm Springs area could lose an important landmark, visual and recreational resource to inappropriately sited industrial power structures and massive electrical lines.

    The oppressive of presence the DPV2 at the western entrance of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, which is the first scenic area, photo opportunity and hiking destination for desert visitors arriving via the Interstate 10 freeway, will greatly detract from the viewshed, general ambiance and quality of this unique desert wilderness area.

    A key location in the Coachella Valley Multi Species Habitat Conservation Plan, Snow Creek is home to many threatened or endangered plant and animal species. In the unique group of canyons (Snow Canyon, Los Osos Canyon, Vargas Canyon) in the Snow Creek Alluvial, there is abundant water and evidence of ancient life.

    It’s many unusual features include a towering waterfall which can be viewed from Snow Creek Road, the spectacular Northern Face of Mt. San Jacinto, the Oasis de Los Osos Preserve, Vargas Palms, the Snow Creek Rock Shelter (Riv. -210) and bedrock mortars, all of which should be carefully considered in this decision.

    The presence of additional high profile power lines may also lead to the general degradation of the National Monument by visitors who see it as an industrial area.

    Snow Creek is a high wind, high risk fire area that suffered greatly when SCE put the first towers and power lines through the San Jacinto Mountains. The SCE crew constructing the towers started a welding fire that swept through Snow Creek Village. Two homes were gravely threatened by the fire. Both had smoke damage and lost trees and landscaping. The fire raced up the mountain and firemen fought it for two days.

    I can most certainly understand why the Morongo would not want these power lines strung through their reservation land, especially since they have so many already. But I really can’t understand them wanting it to go through Snow Creek, home to their ancient relatives, on land all local Indians consider sacred. Indian historian, Alvino Siva, has said that all local Indians consider the entire Snow Creek area sacred land that is critically important to their people, their history, their culture. It’s unfortunate that these power lines will change and blight land that is so important to all our local Indians and some kind of agreement hasn’t been made to prevent this and future degradation of this dramatically beautiful area continually threatened by industrial development.

    Sincerely, Les Starks

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