I grew up at the foot of Aspen Mountain south of Rock Springs. My dad worked for Mountain Fuel, now Questar, and we lived at a gas camp.
My brother and I had the run of the hills when we were kids. In the summertime, we were gone from sunup to sundown, running through the sage, chasing gophers and any other critter that got in our way.
We climbed all over the mountain and had many secret spots where a really sturdy fort could be built of rocks and wood. In the spring, we knew every spot that an antelope doe could hide her fawns and where the sage grouse went to show off their crazy mating dance.
And wherever we roamed, the wind was there, a constant presence blowing our hair and carrying our laughter across the prairie.
I can’t remember more than a handful of times that the wind didn’t blow. It started at about noon every day and continued through the afternoon, slowing down only after it was dark.
My dad said once that if anyone figured out how to harness the wind or how to market sagebrush, they’d be millionaires.
Well, someone has figured out part of it, and there will soon be wind turbines across the wild landscape where we roamed all those years ago.
The turbines will go up on the other side of the mountain, very close to the Three Patches picnic ground where my family spent many happy Sunday afternoons, eating my mom’s fried chicken and potato salad.
Just a little ways above the picnic ground is an ancient Native American medicine wheel. The area around that wheel of rocks feels spiritual and special, as if those who put it there are still watching.
And then there’s the deer and antelope; big herds of them, running across the prairie with no thought to the constant wind.
The wind farm is probably a good thing. My dad would smile at the thought of someone making money from the wind, but I’m not sure he’d like the erection of all those huge towers and spinning blades.
I don’t want to be a NIMBY, and I truly believe we need alternatives to carbon fuels. That said, I don’t think wind power will replace fossil fuels for a very long time. Nothing I’ve read or heard about wind energy convinces me otherwise.
Such a small amount of power is actually created by the wind and most of the turbines must be shut down if the wind becomes too strong.
I’ve had people tell me the wildlife will get used to the turbines and that’s probably true. But the eagles and hawks gliding on the wind currents will always be in danger from the spinning blades.
The wide open space of Wyoming is one of the greatest assets we have. I really don’t want to see the landscape littered with turbines as some places are already.
I’m not opposed to wind farms but I don’t believe we should build acres and acres of them until we know they are helping to solve the energy problem, and not just making a few people wealthier.