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Throwing Kibby Mountain under the bus  

In “Beauty of trail rightly protected,” conservationist Bob Cummings applauds LURC for their recent decision to reject the wind power project proposed for the Redington Mountains near the Appalachian Trail.

Ditto that, Bob.

It was the right idea in the wrong location. Tall towers, whirring turbines, lights, access roads and transmission lines have no place in the fragile alpine environment of our high western mountains.

Wind power has a place in our energy future on a small scale, but locating it in acceptable areas has plagued many efforts. Mars Hill in Aroostook County is one example of a wind project judged acceptable to the local people, and is now a reality. Other acceptable areas might include our blueberry barrens, farmlands, mountains and ridges with existing development, and offshore along the coast.

I am curious, however, as to why the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (of which I am a member) so strongly opposed the Redington wind project, but has apparently voted NOT to oppose a similar project slated for Kibby Mountain, a peak off to the northwest in Kibby Township.

“Members recognized, rightly, that there is a difference between an in-your-face industrial development on ridges abutting the trail corridor, and proposals involving distant ridges,” writes Cummings.

Whoa.

So, just because Kibby Mountain is not located near the Appalachian Trail corridor, is a wind project there any less damaging to the alpine environment–that precious area generally above 2,700′–of that mountain?

I have not yet hiked Kibby Mountain, but I hope to. The AMC Maine Mountain Guide describes the mountain this way: “This remote mountain is in the heart of the wilderness area north of Flagstaff Lake, east of the Chain of Ponds, and south of the Canadian Atlantic RR.” On the 3,638 foot summit of Kibby “there is an old MFS fire tower stand with outstanding and extensive views of the surrounding wilderness.”

Hmmm. Sounds pretty appealing to me. And not exactly where I’d like to see an intrusive wind power project.

So, I’m curious: Why would the well-intentioned folks at the MATC think that wind power is not okay at Redington, but that Kibby can be sacrificed? With all due respect, that smacks disappointingly of its own sort of NIMBYism, don’t you think?

We don’t want wind power ruining our view from the AT, but just up the way we don’t mind if somebody else’s view, somebody else’s favorite mountain, gets marred by development.

It doesn’t jibe. We need to be more consistent.

Further, I wonder what the folks at the Friends of the Boundary Mountains, a local group fighting to keep wind projects off the border region’s peaks, including Kibby, think of such an endorsement by the MATC?

After an unfortunate jab at “our wasteful ways” and the NIMBYs that will use any excuse to “maintain their effortless comfort” in the face of “global warming,” Cummings closes with this: “Please remember that it is still not necessary to destroy the last wild places in order to save the planet.”

Heady charges, for sure. Paradoxically, if global warming were indeed the grave and immediate threat that many seem to believe it is, then why would any wind project meet opposition?

But I digress…

Regarding the issue of conserving our high elevation wildlands: Does not the alpine environment and wilderness character of Kibby Mountain deserve equal consideration by those of us who would protect similar “wild places” nearer to the AT?

By Carey Kish

February 14, 2007

mainetoday.com/trailhead

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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