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Guides, sporting camps oppose wind farm

A coaltion that includes professional Maine guides and sporting camp owners has joined an effort to stop a proposed wind farm in eastern Maine.

The group also is asking Gov.-elect Paul LePage for a moratorium on large wind projects until cost-benefit studies of existing wind farms can be carried out.

The group, the Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed, held a news conference today in Bangor to announce their plans.

The focus of the effort now is stopping a proposed wind farm near Route 6 in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township. Known as Bowers Mountain, it is being planned by a subsidiary of Boston-based First Wind, the state’s dominant wind energy company.

“First Wind has a track record of carefully siting and successfully developing excellent wind projects that have enjoyed broad support from the environmental and outdoors communities,” said John Lamontagne, First Wind’s director of communications. ” For our Bowers project, we’ve had solid support thus far from the Appalachian Mountain Club, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Maine Audubon.

“We’re very confident that this project would not negatively impact the activities in which these organizations engage.”

Opponents say the tall, lighted towers spread along ridgelines will be visible across the Downeast Lakes region and harm the outdoors-based economy that includes guides, sporting camps, outfitters and supporting businesses. They also worry that blasting and road building will wash silt into headwater brooks that host landlocked salmon.

“Visitors who have been coming to the region for generations will simply decide to go elsewhere,” the group said in a news release.

The opponents include the Maine Professional Guides Association and the Maine Sporting Camp Association. They say they aren’t opposed to wind energy, but that improperly placed, large-scale projects threaten their businesses.

They are calling on the state to revisit its current regulations for siting industrial-scale wind projects.