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Bones, artifacts could shift turbine sites  

Three Florida Power & Light Co. wind turbines could be built amid human remains and Ais Indian artifacts that an archaeologist hired by St. Lucie County found in Blind Creek Park.

Archaeologist Bob Carr called the area a “prehistoric cemetery,” though only scattered bones and no skeletons were found. Ceramic pottery and shells also were discovered.

“It was obviously a big campground,” Mosquito Control Director Jim David said. “There clearly was camping and fishing and oystering there.”

The Ais Indians lived in the region during the late 17th century and met Quaker merchant Jonathan Dickinson when he and his party were shipwrecked along what is now Martin County’s coast. Dickinson and the ship’s crew continued, mostly on foot, on a 230-mile trek to St. Augustine.

The tribe was later wiped out, and there are no living descendants.

Carr’s latest finding is unlikely to halt construction but could affect exactly where in Blind Creek Park the wind turbines can be built if state and St. Lucie County officials approve the project.

Bones and artifacts were found when the county removed hurricane debris after the 2004 storms and prepared to remove nonnative trees and bushes, David said.

“The survey was part of the state requirements before we removed exotic species with heavy equipment,” David said.

Carr helped the county find the best way to work so artifacts and remains weren’t destroyed. A report on findings east of State Road A1A was completed in January 2007, and a report on the west side is expected soon, David said.

FPL wants to build three wind turbines on public land and six on its property at the neighboring St. Lucie Nuclear Plant. Company officials tout the 400-foot-tall turbines as a pollution-free way to generate electricity that could power 3,000 houses for a year.

Opponents don’t want the company to build on public property purchased for conservation purposes.

Carr, head of Archaeological and Historical Conservancy Inc., found four Ais sites occupying a fraction of the 350-acre park, but is expected to report more when the west side study is completed. He could not be reached Thursday for further comment.

FPL has completed its own archaeological study, but spokeswoman Amy Brunjes wouldn’t reveal the results Thursday.

“We have completed numerous studies that we wish to present to the St. Lucie County Commission, and we believe it would be most beneficial to do so in a public venue,” she said.

No date has been set for another commission meeting with FPL, but it’s likely to be before April 10. That’s when the state Acquisition and Restoration Council in Tallahassee is scheduled to decide whether to allow FPL to build the three turbines on the state-owned land, which is managed by the county.

The council had been scheduled to hear the case Thursday and today, but FPL withdrew in the face of opposition from commissioners who said they should hear the complete plan before it goes to the state.

County commissioners and the state council both have to approve the project.

The county contributed $3.6 million from its conservation lands program so the state and the South Florida Water Management District could purchase the 350 acres.

State Department of Environmental Protection officials gave their approval Wednesday for FPL to do soil tests and other studies in the park, but county commission approval also is needed.

The state Bureau of Archaeology Research encourages owners of archaeological sites to preserve the artifacts and remains where they were found.

It is a felony under Florida law to deliberately disturb a burial site, whether in a cemetery or prehistoric site.

Carr worked at a Martin County site in October 2004 after erosion from the September storms revealed human remains and artifacts along a Hutchinson Island beach.

By Jim Reeder
Staff Writer

Palm Beach Post

15 February 2008

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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