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Wind farm worries trail enthusiasts

Santa Fe Trail enthusiasts are concerned that a new wind farm proposed for northern Marion County could damage sections of the trail that runs through the county.

“We realize a wind tower is a benefit to the landowner,” said Steve Schmidt, president of the Cottonwood Crossing Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association. “We are just looking for a balance.”

Schmidt said he became aware of the proposed wind farm early in 2015. The association’s primary goal is to prevent destruction of visible remnants and other cultural resources of the trail.

He met with a consultant from the company developing the proposed wind farm to express concern about the possible destruction of ruts or swales made by the passage of tens of thousands of wagons and hundreds of thousands of mules, oxen, and horses from 1821 to 1866.

Features such as camping sites, structures, stream crossings, and buildings also are subjects of concern, especially regarding impacts from access roads and buried utilities that accompany wind farm development.

Schmidt found the company had done its own research on the trail.

“Right now, everybody seems pretty sensitive to the issues,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”