RIO DELL, Calif. – Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes met with leaders of other groups who oppose the Terra Gen wind energy project Tuesday to reject and express their displeasure with the Final Environmental Impact Report that was released on Nov. 4.
In a letter Mayor Garnes wrote to the Humboldt County Planning Commission, she states her opposition to the project citing detrimental impacts to the city’s landscapes and visual surroundings, air quality, and biological and cultural resources. She writes that while the city supports alternative renewable energy solutions, she expresses a number of other concerns connected to this project in particular, including increased fire danger, significant amounts of grading, erosion, geologic stability and sediment discharges into the Eel River
“The impact will be devastating and highly visible from Rio Dell, Fortuna, Kneeland and even as far as South Fork Mountain,” Garnes said. “The grading for twenty towers alone means a permanently terraced ridgetop. This cannot be a project that is approved, much less rushed through the way it is.”
Garnes, along with representatives from the Wiyot Tribe, the Town of Scotia and the Northcoast Environmental Center, met on the site where 20 wind towers are proposed to be located on the Bear River Ridge. The city says many of the towers and turbines could be as tall as 650 feet and Terra Gen would need to clear and level a three-acre area around each turbine base in order to provide support.
“I was disappointed to hear that Terra Gen was giving no consideration to the cultural impact these towers would have on the Wiyot Tribe,” Garnes said. “I wanted to hear from the Wiyot firsthand and let them know that they are not alone.”
The Rio Dell City Council met later on that evening to consider its position on the Final Environmental Impact Report for the project. The council voted 4-0 to oppose the project and send the mayor’s letter to the Humboldt County Planning Commission. Councilmember Woodall was absent from the vote.
“The applicant is requesting and the [county] FEIR supports earth moving activities during the winter months,” the council letter says. That refers to the three-acre levelled pad that must be created for each of the projects 47 turbines (20 to be placed on Bear River Ridge and another 27 on would be placed on nearby Monument Ridge.) That’s over 140 acres of ridgetop that must be levelled.
The council called this activity “reckless” and “irresponsible” given the erosion prone soils and known geological instability of the area hills.
The council’s letter lists a number of impacts to the community, including impacts to transportation and negative impacts to property values among others. To read the full letter the council wrote to the planning commission, click here.
The next planning commission meeting on proposed wind energy development will be held on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. at the board of supervisors chambers.
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