The recent construction of wind turbines in the Boundary Mountains has surprised many of us just how noticeable a distraction these structures pose, even 16 to 18 miles from the Appalachian Trail.
One’s eyes are quickly drawn to the unnatural anomalies on what used to be an unbroken forested landscape all the way to Canada.
Hikers on viewpoints from Saddleback to Pleasant Pond Mountain (35 miles away) have reported their surprise seeing the Kibby turbines so clearly. Even the red flashing lights are visible from the Horns Pond campsite in the Bigelow Preserve.
The past several years of wind power development in Maine has taught us much more about the range of impacts that accompanies this type of development than we knew when the wind power siting law was written in 2007/2008. At the current rate of development, hikers will soon be hard pressed to find any mountain summit east of Grafton Notch where they cannot see wind mills. If this trend continues, the scenic character of the mountains of Maine will be changed for the rest of our lifetimes.
Because of the visibility of these projects from scenic viewpoints, long distance hikers of the Appalachian Trail in Maine may soon be “in the presence” of one wind project or another for much of their trip through a state that was once considered to be a “wilderness.”
Although MATC remains determined to oppose the proposed Highland Wind project adjacent to the Bigelow Preserve, there are many more projects in the “pipeline” which will have increasing and cumulative impacts to the Appalachian Trail. We have recognized that a broader legislative solution is needed to rationalize the “wind rush” caused by the 2008 ‘Expedited Wind Law’.
On February 12, a legislative workshop was held in Freeport to educate people about the 20 proposed bills that have been introduced in the current Legislature. The proposed legislation ranges from outright repeal of the expedited wind law to bills that will ensure improved transparency of claimed benefits and more accurate valuation of wind power costs and recognition of the impacts.
Over 100 people attended the workshop, including representatives from the 24 wind opposition groups in the state of Maine. Several MATC members also attended to observe and participate in the discussion. MATC will monitor the progress of these legislative initiatives and will endorse select bills that are consistent with our interests.
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