To the Editor:
When it comes time to "Perserve our pristine forest lands and ridge lines," it appears that there has been a complete transformation, of the ecological groups rationale, reasoning and rhetoric regarding our lands and for what purposes.
If folks remember the 1999 "Champion Lands Deal" in Essex Country which resulted in the Former Champion Paper Company lands being divided up between three new owners. Our state government bought 22,971 acres and named it the West Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The U.S.F.W.S bought about 25,000 acres and the rest of the land, about 84,000 acres was bought by Essex Timber Company.
Sporting interest groups, various groups of recreational users, and environmental groups made their "pitch" as to how the property was to be used, and what "uses" were to be allowed on the land.
During the many "Hearings" regarding the section of land that the State of Vermont paid over $2.5 million dollars for, there were intense discussions regarding why "we", (the State of Vermont) needed to set aside 12,500 acres of the 22, 971 acres purchased and turn it into an "Ecological Core Area" where all motorized traffic, and many "traditional uses" were and continue to be prohibited.
Many "environmental groups" who were opposed to most everything that had previously taken place on the land, were adamant that the "Ecological Core Area," should be managed in a manner so that "native species in danger" would have a place to regenerate and expand their numbers, without fear that the habitat necessary for them to nest and raise their young would not be impacted by any "man-made activities".
Many of the environmental groups at those hearings, continually used the Bicknell Thrush as an emblem of their "battle-cry" for one of the species that lived in the "Ecological Core Area." They advocated so sincerely and strongly for the Bicknell Thrush habitat, that they were able to get "language added" into the Management Plan that specifically states there would be no low flying aircraft ; no flying of model airplanes, no "hang gliders" or other noisy aircraft flying over that area, especially during "Nesting periods".
They submitted documentation that states the Bicknell Thrush needed complete isolation from human interaction. They stated that the Bicknell Thrush always chooses to nest in elevations at 2700 feet and above, where there is good forest cover. They advocated that the proposed "Ecological Core area" was the perfect place for the Bicknell Thrush to nest and rear their young. As a result of their "data" they were able to get what they wanted.
Now fast forward a few years to the present.
You may remember that a "Wind Tower Investor" wanted to erect wind towers on East Mountain, (the old radar base) and that project got shot down because, according to the same environmental groups arguing it was "too close" to the "Ecological Core Area" part of the West Mt. Wildlife Mangement Area."
This failed proposal was next followed by the project to build wind towers on the heights of Sheffield and Lowell Mountains. At the same time, a much smaller scale project took shape on nearby Burke Mountain. These "projects" went ahead with little opposition." However, the setting of the tower and any helicopter work on Burke Mt. had to be delayed until AFTER THE NESTING SEASON OF THE BICKNELL THRUSH was over!
We didn't hear hardly anything from the environmentalists about placing the same restrictions to protect the Bicknell Thrush during the construction or the placement of the wind towers on the Sheffield project. Plus, the Lowell Mt. wind tower project seems to be exempt from most ecological concerns that were huge issues during "Champion."
ANR, and the "environmental groups, who so adamantly wished to protect the Bicknell Thrush species during "Champion," seem to have turned a "blind eye" for "ecological protection areas" at these newer wind tower sites. Evidently the Bicknell Thrush has lost favor with the very same environmental groups who worked so hard to protect them a dozen years ago on the Champion Lands.
The real question is WHY?
Here are some common factors regarding all of the "wind tower sites" in the NEK:
â?¢ West Mt. has an elevation of 2710 feet.
â?¢ Burke Mt. has an elevation of 3267 feet and is 15 miles from West Mountain.
â?¢ Sheffield Mountain ridge is 2393 feet and is 22 miles from West Mountain.
â?¢ The Lowell Mt. ridge is 3300 feet and is just over 50 miles away.
I guess we are suppose to believe that these birds who fly thousands of mile to come here in search of specific breeding sites will not fly any additional few miles out of their way to breed.
Environmental rhetoric is often difficult to understand ... even more so when there are "politics" involved; especially in Vermont!