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Yokun Ridge considered for easement

LENOX – A conservation restriction to protect the town’s watershed land along Yokun Ridge on Lenox Mountain is under consideration now that the Select Board has killed a possible municipal wind-turbine project at the site.

“Obviously, there are a lot of things that need to be looked at,” said Select Board Chairman John McNinch at the most recent meeting. “We need to decide how we want to proceed to protect that property up there.”

A committee of five members was suggested by Selectman David Roche, building upon the success of the Wind Energy Research Panel.

“We could re-enact a smaller portion of that,” he said, suggesting as potential members Jeffrey Vincent, the town’s Public Works Commissioner, retired state forester Warren Archey (“an expert in watershed maintenance,” said Roche) and a third-party partnership with another organization, such as Berkshire Natural Resources Council, through its executive director, Tad Ames.

Roche said the proposal could be fast-tracked – “we should come up with some guidelines we’d like to see as a Select Board.”

“This is not going to be a new debate about wind power,” he emphasized. “We’ve already made the determination that Yokun Ridge is not the place where the town would like to see wind power.” But he said hydro and solar alternative energy options should be explored, reservoirs might be expanded and a more efficient chlorination-treatment plant could
be considered.

“We’d like to maintain the fire roads and hiking trails through those properties,” Roche added.

“Since Ken [Fowler] did such a great job on the wind committee,” he pointed out, “I know he’s anxious to raise his hand.” Fowler indicated he was willing to moderate the new committee.

McNinch called for volunteers interested in joining the committee – including residents of neighboring towns – to notify Town Manager Gregory Federspiel so the new panel can be formed in time for the next Select Board meeting March 28.