Comments about a proposed wind farm to be placed near Pilot Butte are trickling into the county’s Planning and Zoning Department.
Three comments, both for and against the project, were submitted after the Planning and Zoning Board’s decision to approve the project.
One comment, from Green River resident Brent Andersen, questioned the placement of the windfarm, arguing that there could be other places for the farm to exist.
“We have miles and miles of nondescript land in the county. Why would any thinking person plant these towering generators on the Wild Horse Loop,” Andersen wrote in an e-mail to the zoning department.
Andersen also wrote that the loop tour and Pilot Butte were unique county features enjoyed by tourists and residents, with Pilot Butte being a historic place.
According to Ruth Lauritzen, the curator of the Sweetwater County Museum, Pilot Butte is the highest point on White Mountain. At 7,932 feet, the butte was a landmark used by pioneers traveling on the Oregon, Overland, Cherokee, Mormon and California Trails.
The prominence, accessible by a pipe ladder, allows visitors to survey the surrounding area. Additionally, Lauritzen said a plaque was placed on the butte to commemorate a Masonic Lodge meeting hosted at the butte Sept. 5, 1941.
Kim Brown, a Farson resident, supports the project.
“Just a comment that I would make is that wind power is a very clean way to produce power with minimal environmental issues,” Brown wrote.
“I would think it’s time for the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies to step up to the plate and work to help more of this type of energy development … to keep the AC and heat going in their nice offices with clean, environmentally safe power,” Brown concluded.
A third person, Marie Moe, of Green River, joined Andersen in his concerns of where the proposed wind farm would be placed.
“Harnessing the wind for electricity is something I support wholeheartedly, but the location of this system is unacceptable,” Moe wrote in her comment.
“We have laws forbidding citizens from picking up rocks and taking them home for their rock gardens, but we are going to stick gigantic eyesores in the Wild Horse area?”
Moe was curious if the project required a cultural or environmental impact study.
The county’s windfarm regulations do require an environmental impact assessment. Tesco Engineering addressed each item with a one or two sentence response.
The engineering firm also provided maps showing a number of environmentally critical areas, such as critical winter ranges and sage grouse seasonal restriction areas, but did not indicate where the wind generators would be located in relationship to those areas.
“The environmental assessment was light,” Mark Kot, the county’s planning and zoning director said.
Both the Green River Chamber of Commerce and the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism Board decided to take no position on the wind farm proposal.
Dave Hanks of Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce was unavailable for comment at press time.
Jenissa Bartlett, director of the travel and tourism, said the tourism board hoped the company would invest in interpretive signage to explain the project.
“We understand it’s multi use land,” Bartlett said.
David Tate, a member of the travel and tourism board said the board had a difficult time deciding one way or the other because there were members both for and against the project.
Janet Hartford echoed Bartlett, saying the chamber decided to not oppose the project and hoped signs would be placed to explain the project.
Hartford said the road gets a lot of traffic and didn’t expect the horses to permanently leave the area after the generators were built.
“We’ve seen with oil and gas industry reclamation that (the horses) come back to eat the reclaimed plants,” Hartford said.
Hartford added the project may have a visual impact on the area and could impact the Run With the Horses Marathon, but concluded the chamber also understands the land is multi use land.
The issue is slated to be on the agenda at next week’s meeting of the Sweetwater County Commissioners
By David Martin
26 September 2007
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