The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has learned that work done on mitigation parcels associated with the Lowell wind project resulted in a discharge of sediment to several streams.
According to an agency order issued Friday, the clearing, grading and culvert installation on the lands will continue to create discharges unless corrected.
If not fixed, the work on the logging road has the potential to cause or contribute to a violation of water quality standards, the order states, and the discharge of sediment is due to inadequate implementation of the forestry acceptable management practices.
Alterations to wetlands constitute a violation of the Vermont Wetland Rules, the order states.
Green Mountain Power, the principle company involved in the project, began remediation work on the parcels Monday, according to Robert Dostis, who takes care of customer relations and external affairs for GMP.
Dostis said per ANR’s order, landowner Trip Wileman will be responsible for paying for the remediation work.
Hired by GMP, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. prepared restoration and remediation plans for both the logging and clearing work as well as for fill placed in a beaver pond.
The order gave Wileman until Monday to approve the restoration plans and 30 days to implement it.
ANR became aware of the activity on the land through a July 21 letter from GMP to the Public Service Board stating that 10 mature trees were improperly cut by a surveyor; that a logger put fill in part of a wetland on neighboring property destined for a large conservation area to mitigate for the wind project lands; and that roadside ditches in that area may not properly handle runoff in heavy rain.
Once it discovered the problems, GMP ordered all pre-construction work on the Lowell wind site on the ridge line to cease until further notice.
And the logging company owned by Wileman, who owns most of the land to be conserved, stopped work in that area, according to the letter to the PSB written by Donald Rendall Jr., vice president and general counsel of GMP.
The logging road work occurred on two parcels of land that are destined to be conserved as part of hundreds of acres set aside in an agreement between GMP and ANR. The work was done in the past couple of months, Rendall wrote.
The logging work is not related to the wind project, he said.
GMP, with partners Vermont Electric Cooperative and VELCO, the transmission company, wants to erect 21 industrial-size turbines on the Lowell ridge line in a project called Kingdom Community Wind.
The PSB issued a certificate of public good for the project, with many conditions – including conclusion of the conservation easement agreements with ANR and storm-water runoff and water quality permits, which are still outstanding.
Wileman has agreed to stay off the mitigation parcel, except for non-motorized recreational uses, until Nov. 13, 2013.
Wileman had been permitted to haul logs across the parcel when the ground is frozen, but the ANR recommended that permission be rescinded.
Easements for three mitigation parcels should be revised to eliminate Wileman’s right to build or improve new roads, the report states. Wileman will be allowed to repair and maintain roads with written consent from ANR.
GMP hired contractor J.A. McDonald to do the work, Dostis said.
“In a quick turnaround to address concerns raised in connection with logging activities on land set aside to mitigate impacts of the wind project, J.A. McDonald will be starting remediation and logging road repair,” Dostis said. The work is expected to be complete in one week.
The ANR issued the necessary permit to allow the work to begin. The work includes removal of the logging road, upgrades to storm-water management features (culverts, ditches, water bars) on a remaining logging road, land grading and re-vegetation.
None of the work will be done on the Kingdom Community Wind building site.
“GMP is committed to completing the work to the satisfaction of ANR as quickly as possible,” Dostis said.
These problems emerged just as GMP is continuing negotiations with ANR.
“GMP is committed to finalizing these easements as expeditiously as possible, and to include all appropriate safeguards to ensure compliance with the terms and objectives of the easements. GMP requests that the board not rule on the forms of conservation easements and the Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan for the mitigation parcels until negotiations with ANR are complete,” Rendall wrote in the July letter.
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