Spencer Jones normally spends his day behind a desk in Garland. This weekend he’s visiting Fredericksburg and the hill country.
“One of the things I wanted to do was see this place,” he said.
He’s referring to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.The giant granite dome attracts a quarter of a million visitors a year, many hike the trail to the summit.
Once you reach the top of Enchanted Rock you’re rewarded with panoramic views. Soon that view could include more than the native hill country beauty. Wind turbines, like the kind seen near Abilene could soon begin to appear.
Gillespie County leaders say an alternative power company has been asking land owners to sign lease option agreements.
“If they determine that there’s sufficient wind available they like to turn the options into lease agreements. They lease land for the installation of the large wind turbines,” Greg Snelgrove with Gillespie County Economic Development said.
The County Judge says the state doesn’t regulate the placement of wind turbines and the county doesn’t have the power to stop the possible construction.
Some land owners view generating wind power as a potential source of income. County leaders are working with state legislators to change the way wind farms are regulated in Texas.
Robert Weatherford is the president of Save Our Scenic Hill Country, a group of land owners working to keep wind farms out of the area.
“You will literally be able to see them for miles. So we do think that it would destroy the scenic beauty of the Texas hill country,” Weatherford said.
Some visitors don’t think the turbines would ruin their experience.
“It’s not going to affect the fact that I can come out here and hike and see the rest of the scenery,” tourist Tony Hutchison said.
“I know you’re trying to do a good thing with the wind farms but I know there’s going to be other people that don’t want to come up here and see that kind of distraction,” tourist Sandra Taylor said.
Gillespie County is worried that would mean less visitors like Jones.
“That’s why people come to these places, is to see the view,” Jones said.
By Russell Wilde
20 October 2007
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