West Virginia is under attack once again by wealthy, out-of-state corporations. I’m referring the the proposed Laurel Mountain Wind Turbine Project. Current plans call for 54-80 wind turbines to be erected along the ridge top of Laurel Mountain in Randolph and Barbour counties, stretching about eight mile from Corridor H to Thorn Knob.
Typically, each turbine requires a clear-cut of five to 10 acres. Additionally, the road built to construct and connect these turbines results in more extensive clear-cuts. It takes hefty roads stretching the length of the ridge top to get construction materials to these sites. Additional buffer zones extend up to 1,000 feet on either side of these cleared areas. All of this land will be patrolled, guarded and off limits, not only to hunters, but even to the legal landowners. The end result will be a corridor eight miles long and up to one-half mile wide, which will be completely removed from all travel or any other potential use.
Do you like to go high on the mountain to find that big rack? Tough luck. Are you in the habit of moving from one side of the mountain to the other to track game? Not any more. In wind turbine areas, just getting to the top of the mountain is impossible, much less crossing from one side to the other.
Well beyond these “No Trespassing” zones, hunting will be severely degraded due to the constant, low-frequency drone of the turbines. This excessive noise drowns out and masks all other sounds in the forest.
Of course all of this may not matter much. In areas where wind turbines have already been built, hunters report that wildlife populations, including deer and turkey, have decreased.
Perhaps fishing is your thing. The clear-cutting of ridge tops and the massive amounts of concrete guarantees increased silt and sedimentation washing down into sensitive trout streams. In areas with existing wind projects, the chemicals used on their roads to keep dust down have resulted in significant fish kills.
The environmental damage associated with industrial wind projects is similar in nature to much of the mountaintop removal. It stands to reason that we could expect similar result, such as extensive flooding, as the ridge tops are cleared of protective vegetation and large sections replaced with concrete.
Our mountains are a major part of who we are. They are at the root of the heritage we will pass onto our children. The damage caused by these wind turbines will last far beyond our lifetimes, and will have great effect on the lives of our children and grandchildren. What do we want our legacy to be?
This is not a done-deal. There is still time to stop this and preserve our way of life. Contact your county commissioners, delegates, senators, congressmen and other elected official. Ask them for an immediate moratorium on all current and planned industrial wind projects. Attend public meetings and force the Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency to do their jobs and protect our mountains. It really is up to us.
Kenneth B. Rycroft
23 February 2008
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