Last winter I sat on a rock high up on the eastern side of Steward Mountain here in Highland Plantation, Somerset County [Maine] to take a break while checking traps. To my right were Witham and Bald Mountains and across the Sandy Stream Valley were Burnt and Briggs. To the north was Barker Brook, further on lay West, Middle, and East Carry Ponds and beyond Pierce Pond and the Dead River. What a beautiful sight to behold.
At times like that my mind wanders back in time wondering what my father, grandfather and those before them thought as they sat on the sides of the mountains of what we now call Northern New England. My family has been treading this region since the days of the French and Indian Wars. They were hunters, trappers, woodsmen, soldiers, and farmers. Family records reflect both patriots and loyalist among those of long ago. A few were well known and are recorded in history, the majority faded into the past. I feel deep within my soul that no matter what political paths they took during their lives that one thing was common to all. That was a deep love of this hard and harsh land that they chose to live in. No matter what the opposing forces threw at them they never wavered in the love for this land.
To sit on a mountain side and listen, one can hear the winds speak to them. If you have ever sat on the top of a mountain and listened really hard, I swear you can hear the spirits of the earth talk to you.
All of that which we hold dear in our natural world is entrusted to us by the all mighty. We are a part of that world and as humans we can also break this trust. I sat there that day and thought of what was to soon happen to these mountains. What God had made, man was about to defile and forever change. What took millions of years to make would be changed in just moments in time. The tops of these mountains and many more across the landscape of Maine would soon be changed forever by machines and explosives. The actual tops will be blasted, scraped and dug until they were suitable for only a very few men’s financial gain. The tops would soon be home to wind turbines made in foreign country’s whose generated power does not even benefit those of us who live in Maine. The power generated goes to Southern New England. The construction jobs are held mainly by out of state people or by foreigners. Only a couple full time jobs for each wind power complex will be held once they are operational.
What do we get? We get low frequency noise and strobe affect of the blades in the sun light that causes various documented mental and medical problems. The hydrology of the mountains may be impacted and can affect our drinking water and the surface waters that hold various species of life including our beloved brook trout. The impact to wildlife other than that of a few threatened species, birds, and bats has not even been researched or studied. The same affects we feel will surely affect wildlife more as they are more sensitive to their environment. The high alpine vegetation will be destroyed by the construction. Moose will be driven off the mountains north sides where they go to have the cold temperatures of winter freeze off their tick infestations that can weaken them enough so that they may perish. The pine martin, one of the most valuable of our fur bearers thrives on mountains with heavy spruce growth. This area is the southern edge of their productive range in this part of Maine. Our depleted deer herd will be further stressed due to the fact that noise will cause them to be in an alert posture more of the time and that will reduce their time to feed. The thousands of acres that will be stripped of vegetation to create access roads, transmission lines and wind turbine sites will reduce and fragment wild life habitat. The use of herbicides to prevent re-vegetation will harm wildlife, aqueduct species, and maybe our own drinking water. The possibility of forest fires will be greatly increased due to lighting strikes to the turbines and overheated gearbox lubricants igniting. This is in an area far from firefighting equipment and men. Older residents remember the huge forest fires in Maine’s past, some only stopped at the seas edge. I as many of you do, love Maine and want to keep it for our future generations to cherish. Maine currently produces more power than we use. I say let Southern New England install the wind turbines in their back yard. They are the ones who need the power.
Dave Miller is a Maine resident, an outdoor writer and a member of the Carrabassett Valley Trappers Association. He is also a contributing writer for Third Lens Media and the Maine Web Report.
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