This is to express our opposition to the proposed re-powering of two existing commercial wind projects in Riverside County.
The proposed Mesa Wind Project will put up to 11 500-foot-tall wind turbines with red blinking lights on the mountain ridgeline above Whitewater Canyon Road. These will loom awkwardly above an ancient Teshana Wanakik settlement at Bonnie Bell Lodge and some of the most beautiful land in the world: the Whitewater Preserve and the Sand to Snow National Monument. The Teshana Wanakik Indians (relatives of the Morongo Indians) inhabited ancient Bonnie Bell Lodge and Snow Creek Canyon on opposite sides of the San Gorgonio Pass.
The second, the Alta Mesa Wind Project, would replace 159 existing turbines with up to 14 500-feet-tall wind turbines. Together the projects will inundate local landfills with the disposal of over 600 industrial wind turbine blades which cannot be recycled.
All desert cities and local Indian tribes should oppose this ill-conceived development because so many of our area’s most important scenic views have already been sacrificed to industrial wind turbine and billboard development along the Interstate 10 corridor, on Highway 62, in North Palm Springs, Indian Avenue and West Garnet.
The Verbenia exit of the I-10 freeway was renamed Haugen-Lehmann Way in honor of Michael P. Haugen and James Lehmann Jr., two Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies who were ambushed and murdered there while investigating a domestic disturbance on Jan. 5, 1997.
It is a desolate stretch of freeway frontage characterized by unbridled wind turbine development and an endless tangle of overhead power lines and billboards so harshly illuminated that they can be seen for miles.
In the San Bernardino Mountains above the I-10 stand 460 Mesa Wind turbines, abandoned and inoperable, originally approved by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors in 1984. These are scheduled for demolition if these pending, profiteering developments are approved by the Bureau of Land Management office in Palm Springs.
In the early 1990s, we witnessed firsthand the effect of wind turbine development in Whitewater Canyon. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has given wind developers free rein over the San Gorgonio Pass, especially the area surrounding verdant, riparian Whitewater Canyon, which was once a haven for bird-watchers and an annual migratory stop for a large number of turkey vultures.
Before that time, the cottonwood trees at Bonnie Bell Lodge would appear almost black because of their number. Their population and that of other canyon birds steadily decreased as Riverside County wind developments increased because of the vast numbers killed by the industrial camp of windmills. These artificial structures now dominate the ridgelines of this once astonishingly beautiful water canyon, which sadly is now permanently defiled and degraded by gargantuan wind turbines.
We adamantly oppose both of these re-powering projects for the environmental and aesthetic damage they will inevitably cause.
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