A total of four wind-energy projects are slated for the Apple Valley area, prompting the Apple Valley Town Council and San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt to take action.
“The California Bureau of Land Management has had over 100 applications in the desert, many of them in the 1st District,” said Apple Valley Town Councilman Scott Nassif, who found out about the projects through concerned residents. “My fear that there was a proliferation of these projects has come to fruition.”
Once they get a foothold on a certain area, they just multiply from there, Nassif added.
On the Granite Mountains between Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley there is a project slated for 27 wind turbines and another for three meteorological towers, according to the BLM’s Web site.
On Sidewinder Mountain in North Apple Valley, a project with 32 to 36 turbines is scheduled alongside another calling for two meteorological towers.
The projects have also caught the attention of 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, who is in the process of working out a memorandum of understanding regarding alternative energy projects planned for the 1st District, which includes the entire Victor Valley.
The purpose of the memorandum of understanding is to allow the county to help the BLM regulate the number and impact of energy projects being proposed.
The BLM is a multiple-use federal land agency, not a conservation agency, said Mitzelfelt, adding that if you follow the rules, they will process just about any application submitted.
“My concern is there is other uses for the desert such as mining, cattle grazing, recreation and military operations,” Mitzelfelt said. “I don’t want to see all of our remaining desert that’s available to people covered in windmills and solar plants.”
Renderings of the projects show that the windmills will be visible from many main areas in the town of Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley and residents closer to the projects have also raised concerns.
April Gower moved her family from within the Apple Valley town limits to Fairview Valley to live in a peaceful and tranquil setting.
“I’m not opposed to alternative energy sources, I just think there’s a better place to put them,” Gower said. “With all the open space in San Bernardino County, I don’t think they should be in taxpayer’s backyards.”
Gower, a real estate agent, also said that the windmills will ruin the view of natural rock formations and undoubtedly drive down property values.
“I think there’s plenty of desert where they could locate windmills where it won’t negatively affect a populated community by destroying the view,” said Mitzelfelt.
Mitzelfelt said he recognizes that there are competing priorities and supports renewable energy but doesn’t want to see all of it put in the desert.
“What’s an acceptable burden for the desert, that’s a question that needs to be answered,” said Mitzelfelt. “What I really want to see is for the BLM to step back and put the breaks on the overall acceptance of these applications and do an environmental survey on the accumulative impact these projects have.”
By Ryan Orr
17 February 2008
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