Letters to the Editor
Over the past few weeks there have been letters to the editor and some articles in this paper in regards to the proposed wind turbine farm presented to the county board of commissioners and zoning board from Heritage Sustainable Energy out of Traverse City for the Cooks community.
Our family originally purchased our property in 1977 as the area is appealing and allows us the freedom one feels of living in a rural community. Nothing compares to the views we see daily of wildlife, trees, open air space, and the sound of an occasional vehicle/4-wheeler or perhaps even the occasional far-off sound of the train making its way through Cooks. We love to sit in our back yard and watch Sandhill Cranes make their nest on the back field, the return of the American bald eagle, and enjoy hunting on our property.
With the proposed wind turbine locations presented by Heritage with their request for setbacks of only three-quarters mile from neighboring property lines, it will prevent us from enjoying our retirement dream of a “slice of heaven on earth”. With Heritage’s recommendations, we would be restricted on what we could or couldn’t do on our property. We do not have any signed contract with Heritage that would give away our rights, yet because neighbors have, we are penalized. We don’t begrudge others the opportunity to make a few dollars on their property and their right to have a turbine erected on their land. But it shouldn’t take away from our personal enjoyment in views, sounds, property values, or dictate what we can or cannot do on our land.
We encourage visiting the Garden area to listen to the sound made by the existing farm. Make more than one trip down there. When it’s loudest, which is dependent on wind speed, imagine that sound in the background while enjoying your backyard barbecue or while your home windows are open. Or perhaps you’ll be able to see for yourself the “flickering” caused by the sun hitting the blades. Imagine this coming into your windows. One could argue that the wind doesn’t blow over 5 mph daily or that once the sun goes down, so does the flickering ... well, you would be correct. But then again, there are many days we do have high winds all day and night and the sun shining until well after 9 p.m. during summer months.
We are simply asking the county commissioners to please adopt at least a one-year moratorium in order for everyone involved to thoroughly study the issue. Just because this only pertains to the Cooks area for now, remember, if the county doesn’t step up and do anything county-wide, don’t assume other communities won’t be affected. Yours may be next. Remember just a few years ago, Heritage only started with one “test” turbine in Garden.
According to the DNR, they are considering another wolf hunt. Why not. It is their responsibility to manage, and the only cost effective way of doing so, is regulated hunting and trapping.
DNR Director Keith Creah correctly pointed out that trapping is controversial; which is probably the reason why the 2013 wolf hunt didn’t include trapping. It is also a legitimate method of take. So what if it is not socially acceptable to some people. This is wildlife management, not social science.
An important precedent was set several years ago, when at the request of trappers, the Natural Resources Commission opened up the northern Lower Peninsula to bobcat trapping. In response, organized dog groups sued to stop the season, claiming the bobcat population couldn’t sustain the added harvest pressure. The real reason is that they didn’t want to share the resource. The DNR prevailed in court and the bobcat season was reinstated.
This appeals court decision supported management prerogative that all legitimate user groups should have equal access to the resource. That is referred to as resource allocation. As long as the regulations are fair and provide for equal opportunity, it’s the right thing to do.
Why not for wolves? The department should accommodate both hunters and trappers. The reason they didn’t reach their goals last fall, is that they didn’t allow trapping.
It seems, that with controversial issues, the DNR resorts to political expediency. As a result, they cling to flawed reasoning and impractical implementation. This management prescription has had unintended consequences. In other words, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
One subject missing from this debate, is that aside from intrinsic worth, most game species have economic value.
Those that do, have advocates willing to spend time, money and effort on their behalf. For example, whitetail deer have a lot of supporters. The wolf is a furbearer and trophy animal. Potentially, hunters, trappers and the guiding industry have a stake in their welfare. The benefits people and businesses in rural areas.
Hunting and trapping are under siege all over the country. Sound science is the only effective way we have to defend against political and legal challenges like the ballot fight we face this fall. Science is the justification for regulations that are based on sustainable use – a concept Michigan voters decisively in 1996.
The proposed industrial wind project in Schoolcraft County has caused a division between “participating” and “nonparticipating” land owners in the township where they have been proposed. These conflicts do not appear to be based solely on the differential economic impacts of these installations but are in large part due to the heavy-handed tactics and intimidations used by many project developers that reject the reasonable protection of nonparticipating citizens.
One of these tactics includes pushing inadequate turbine setbacks from property lines. Smaller average land parcel sizes and population density factors in Schoolcraft County are quite different than those in much of the Plains and Central States where property line setbacks for wind projects may not impact anyone!
The Schoolcraft County Commissioners must send a message based on the most recent scientific information and the actual experiences of citizens living by established industrial wind farms, that it strongly supports the adequate protection of all of its citizens by insisting that property line setbacks, noise limits, and turbine separation standards exceed the unsupported “minimum” standards by the wind industry.
We must never forget that an industrial wind turbine is not merely a child’s pinwheel slowly turning on a summer’s day, but is in fact a massive, expensive utility power generator that will have a huge impact on its surroundings for decades to come.
When I was in Escanaba last Wednesday and sitting in the reception area of the ophthalmologist, who does cataract surgery, I noticed a couple talking to a lady and they said they lived in Garden. That spiked my interest because of the articles about the wind turbines that have appeared in the Pioneer Tribune and the controversy about having them in the Cooks area. I wondered how this couple from Garden felt about the turbines being in their community so I asked them.
Here is their story. “Several years ago we went to the state park and we stopped in Garden. We were so impressed by the friendly people – the quiet little town, the beauty and tranquility of the area.
When we got home we decided we wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of our big city and retire in Garden. So we bought a home there.
We move to Garden and it was our little heaven. We sat outside and listened to the birds – it was so relaxing. Now we sit outside and all we can hear is “swishswish swish”.
We use to open our windows at night and let the cool breezes in. Now we keep them closed but we still hear noises beside the swishing. Sometimes we hear a grinding noise – at times it sounds like a jet flying over our house.
The town is no longer as peaceful as the people who leased their land for the almighty dollar are not well liked by many.
We thought about moving away but the value of our land has plummeted and our home is not worth the price we paid for it. Besides who would want to buy it?
No, the windmills have ruined our community.”
Oh by the way I asked them, “Do you live right next to the wind turbines?”, nd they answered, “Oh no, we live quite a distance away from them.”
I just thought I would share this with your readers what one couple told me.
Eileen St. Onge