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Protesters return to the mountain

LOWELL, VT – A group of about 20 protesters met on the Lowell Mountain ridge line yesterday to protest “Environmental Destruction” on the site where 21 industrial sized turbines are being constructed.

Some protesters were clad in bear costumes and held sings that read, “I can’t find my den.” The costumes signified the disruption to wildlife habitat, said Steve Wright of Craftsbury in a press release. Wright is an active opponent of the project.

Protesters stopped construction Monday morning for two hours before leaving the site.

According to Dorothy (Dotty) Schnure, manager of corporate communications at Green Mountain Power (GMP), police were called in the morning but protesters had left before police arrived. Schnure said she thought they left because they were cold.

The protesters announced on their blog, Mountain Talk on World Press, through an invitation, that they intended to meet on Monday morning on the crane path and stop construction vehicles. Monday morning around 9 a.m. Schnure contacted local media to announce the protester situation and offered a ride up to the site. Schnure said that safety training for new visitors is required. Those who wish to go up to the construction site can contact GMP to arrange to go to the site but visitors must be accompanied while in the construction zone. Schnure said she is also accompanied while at the site for safety reasons.

Last week seven protesters were arrested for trespassing including Chris Braithwaite, the publisher of The Chronicle in Barton. Schnure said Braithwaite did not contact GMP properly to entering the site.

Schnure said that GMP is working on a plan to respond appropriately to those protester who break the law by trespassing.

Protesters were at the site at 7:30 on the disputed land where the crane path was built. Don and Shirley Nelson say that the land is theirs, while Trip Wileman, the landowner leasing property to GMP says its his.

Some protesters wore shirts that read, “Ridges are Not Renewable,” while blockading the crane path.

“How can it be considered okay for GMP to blow up the mountain top when this property ownership has not been resolved?” Peter Romans, a protester from Greensboro, questioned, according to Wright.

The protesters sang the Vermont Song and read Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” aloud to highlight the importance of protecting natural resources. Several carried large signs warning GMP to “Stop Destroying Vermont” and redirecting them through “Detour To Honest Energy Policy.”

“It is staggering to view the scale of the destruction of the ridge line,” Tim Colman of Albany was quoted as saying. Stacy Burke of Craftsbury, in explaining her presence on the mountain said, “In choosing this project, Green Mountain Power failed to assign any value to the environment they would be destroying to build it.”

If you consider the actual value of fresh water, wildlife habitat, a thriving moose and bear population, and natural beauty, the cost of a project like this far outweighs the benefits.”

Schnure made a statement regarding the mountain protesters Monday afternoon. She stated the following: “It is unfortunate that the opponents, who participated in the year-long regulatory review process with their own lawyers and experts, have decided to resort to breaking the law. Their actions create unacceptable safety risks to them and the 200 construction workers at the site, increase the cost of the project for members of Vermont Electric Cooperative and customers of Green Mountain Power, and cause law enforcement to leave the local communities they serve.”