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Bear River Wind Project presented to City of Rio Dell

The Rio Dell City Council held a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 31 regarding the proposed Bear River Wind Power Project. Representatives from Shell WindEnergy met with the City Council and interested citizens.

Shell WindEnergy’s proposed project includes approximately 25 wind turbines installed on private property along Bear River Ridge above Ferndale and Rio Dell. If constructed, the proposed project’s 50 megawatts of generation capacity would produce enough renewable electricity to power over 18,000 homes. Because this meeting occurred directly after the Sept. 1 issue of the Beacon was printed, a report on that meeting will not be available till next week.

The wind project requires a Conditional Use Permit from Humboldt County and triggers the requirement for a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the federal Endangered Species Act for potential “take” of Marbled Murrelet which is federally listed as threatened. Some critics of the project include residents of Ferndale who have stated elsewhere that the project will do nothing to enhance energy availability for Ferndale citizens and that the presence of windmills will blight the landscape.

To briefly retrace the history of this project, Humboldt County issued a Notice of Preparation and Map of a joint Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the Bear River Ridge Wind Power Project on Jan. 19, 2010.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a Notice of Intent to prepare a joint Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in the Federal Register.

Scoping meetings for the joint EIR/EIS were held on Feb. 2 in Fortuna and Feb. 3, 2010 in Eureka. A Scoping Report (revised on March 24, 2011 to include public comment letter that was inadvertently left out) was prepared to provide an overview of scoping requirements, which included; a description of the issues anticipated to be addressed in the EIR/EIS; a summary of all written comments and verbal made during the scoping process; and appendices that include copies of all written comments, (revised on March 24, 2011) summaries of the scoping meetings including verbal comments, and other project-related materials used to inform interested parties about the proposed action and the EIR/EIS (Scoping Meeting Announcement, Notice of Preparation, Notice of Intent). More information on the proposed project can be found at http://co.humboldt.ca.us/planning/bear-river/