October 2, 2006
Letters, West Virginia

Wind turbines, development, Nature and lessons learned

Dear fellow Appalachians:

I am writing about this wind turbine controversy, although with a different perspective than I’ve been hearing or reading here. My thoughts are not personal or political–they are about Nature and learning from our past. I’m not against energy industry in West Virginia; I’m just not sure about how we’re going about it.

I keep noticing that everyone is talking about “my backyard” and “your backyard” and “people’s needs,” but no one appears to be talking about Nature’s needs or opinions? About 125 years or so ago, a man settled on the Greenbrier river and started cutting down trees to sell for lumber. As the nation’s capitalists discovered the abundance of wood available here, almost overnight this became “America’s Lumber Mill.” Every industrialist investor wanted a piece of this and in the end, they stripped nearly every tree from these hills!

No one is talking about how when these mountains were covered with forests and trees as grand as those of the Pacific Northwest, there were beds of moss and peat here up to 14 inches deep that could have absorbed 7 inches of rain. Now we have little to no peat and these hills can barely absorb one to two inches of rain, resulting in more catastrophic floods. This abuse is how we ended up with the barren rock laden places like Dolly Sods and the exquisite views we enjoy from places like Snowshoe, Spruce Knob and Cold Knob. Before the land abuse, those peaks were as covered in forest as our deepest gorges are today.

I have heard foresters say that these hills are only “beginning” to recover from that previous onslaught of exploitation of the land and might fully recover in another few “hundred” years. Did you know the National Forest Service was created out of the need to restrain the timber industry right here in WV? To try to recover what was left of these mountains, and to protect the people who were getting washed away in the flooding and mudslides that had resulted from this stripping of the mountain’s vegetation. Meanwhile, every few years now it seems we are relocating another town out of a pristine (but too-often-flooded) valley onto an ugly man-made plateau scoured out of a nearby mountainside. In the mountains of North Carolina, these effects were realized a couple of decades ago and they put a stop to mountaintop clearing.

Watching the occurrence of Nature-related catastrophes around the nation, one soon realizes that we are relatively untouched by those extremes here in our mountains. Nearly no tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and other such major calamities touch us here. However, if we keep on raping these mountains, they too might become as uninhabitable as the nation’s coastlines are becoming.

Why is no one pointing out that this single project is opening the floodgates again to the kind of exploitation these hills endured 120 years ago? Allowing this single project is equivalent to that first man clear-cutting the forests and floating mountains of logs down the Greenbrier. Soon the entire Allegheny mountain chain from here to New York will be tree-stripped and lined with thousands of industrial statues. Yes, thousands–that is clearly stated in public documents available on-line about the head corporations behind this tax incentive driven initiative. Just search on Wind Energy.

No, this is not only about one 15-mile mountaintop here in Greenbrier County. Check into what’s already happened along the Allegheny Front in Pennsylvania. Their actions prove their plans–these new energy corporations have applications pending in nearly every county along the Front, both in VA and WV. This mountain and forest abuse will be most beneficial to the world’s capitalist investors, just as it was 100+ years ago, while the common folks who live here will suffer the (as yet, unknown) consequences–again–probably with little relative compensation. No one’s mentioning the many millions they will bank for the $400,000 they promise us for a piece of our heritage.

It is said these are the oldest (as well as most beautiful) mountains in the world. Isn’t it time the human “race” stopped destroying them? Why can’t they put the wind turbines out in the desert or some where no one lives and there is little effect on the environment and people? Where is Nature’s vote in this controversy? Why won’t we learn from our past?!

Best regards, to both sides of the fight,

Darly Morgan

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2006/10/02/wind-turbines-development-nature-and-lessons-learned/