Think the windtoon message sounds silly? How about if the same government agency that told you 18 historic sites would be negatively impacted by the installation of an industrial wind complex decided that a check for $10,000 would solve the problems. No physical modification required, no corrective action, no effort required to remove the negative impact, just send a check.
Now, $10,000 is a lot of money to me, and maybe to you. But to the LLCs constructing a $131,000,000.00 wind plant financed largely with your money in the form of taxpayer subsidies, it’s pocket change, maybe even pocket lint. For a government agency, formed for the sole purpose of protecting the heritage of its citizens, to sell out historic sites with the ease of a carnival barker, is beyond shameful.
Dawn Baldwin Barrett of Brightside Acres provides an excellent account of recent activities concerning Camp Allegheny in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Ms. Barrett expresses her concern for a similar outcome for this historic civil war site, and how the decision pending in the State of Virginia will certainly impact this national treasure, the State of West Virginia and the country as a whole. This is an extremely important issue and we share her deep concerns. Please visit Brightside Acres and support her efforts to protect our heritage.
With her permission , we provide the full text of her commentary here:
Virginia DHR Issues a Recommendation to HNWD
After consulting with the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) of the National Park Service regarding the documented boundary of Camp Allegheny Battlefield, Kathleen Kilpatrick, Director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), drafted a letter to John Flora, attorney for Highland New Wind Development (HNWD), on November 17. This letter was forwarded to Brightside by West Virginia Representative Nick Rahall’s office yesterday.
Location and Significance of Battlefield Verified
In her letter, Ms. Kilpatrick expresses the Department’s concern that the Visual Impact Study prepared for HNWD by the Antares Group “does not take into account the full nature and extent of the impacted resource.” As justification, she cites the ABPP’s 2009 update to the 1993 Civil War Sites Advisory Commission study, which defines Camp Allegheny Battlefield as including not only the area of the Confederate encampment, gun emplacements and trenches located at the western end of the property, but also the site of the early morning Union attack at the eastern end of the property, in the vicinity of the Varner Cemetery.
Line-of-sight analyses have shown that this area is between one and 1.5 miles from the three closest proposed wind turbines. The following explanation, provided to DHR by the ABPP, vindicates not just Brightside, but all of the historians, archaeologists, and citizens who have continued to insist, despite HNWD statements to the contrary, that this area is indeed an integral part of Camp Allegheny:
“The eastern portion of the Battlefield includes the area where Federal troops first encountered Confederate pickets along the Staunton-Parkersburg Pike, where Federal regiments moved east off the turnpike toward the Varner Cemetery…where they deployed in line of battle at the east end of the broad ridge across the summit (just south of the Varner Cemetery), and the open land over which the Confederates marched to meet the oncoming enemy and upon which heavy fighting occurred for more than two hours.”
The first paragraph on page two of Kilpatrick’s letter includes the revealing note that DHR actually provided the ABPP-defined geographical boundaries of the Battlefield to HNWD way back in January, 2009, and again in October, at which time DHR requested that HNWD consider the entire Battlefield in their visual impact study. Ms. Kilpatrick confirms that, despite this request, the study HNWD produced focuses only on the central and western portion of the Battlefield, and excludes the eastern portion, which is closest to the wind turbines.
We find the revelation that HNWD has been in possession, since January, of National Park Service information defining Camp Allegheny as including land in the vicinity of the Varner Cemetery very interesting. Despite this knowledge, the company’s representatives have stated repeatedly in op-eds, interviews, on-line forums, and even directly to the SCC Hearing Examiner on September 23, that Camp Allegheny is “more than two miles” from the closest wind turbine. A company willing to fudge the facts with the Hearing Examiner would appear to be a company quite comfortable fudging the facts with regular folks.
Ms. Kilpatrick further states that the Visual Impact Study provided by HNWD “does lack an appreciation of the resource’s integrity, specifically its integrity of location, setting, and feeling, which are particularly relevant when considering battlefield landscapes.” She goes on to say: “Our own visit to the Battlefield confirmed a relative lack of modern intrusion on the historic landscape and its ability to convey to the visitor the sense of where, why and how the battle took place.”
Adverse Effect of Wind Turbines Confirmed
Finally she concludes: “After consideration of all available information it is our opinion that the HNWD project will have an adverse effect on the Battlefield by diminishing the integrity of the Battlefield’s setting and feeling.”
At long last, DHR stepped-up and stated the obvious.
So, now what? If HNWD’s claim that this is an eighty-million-dollar project is accurate, then this is the eighty-million-dollar question.
The answer, once again, largely depends on us.
In her letter, Ms. Kilpatrick makes only one recommendation: “We recommend further discussions between DHR, HNWD, and affected stakeholders on mitigation strategies to address the project’s impact to historic resources.”
She states that these efforts should be reasonable and proportionate to the scale of the project, significance of the resource and severity of the impact and should “result in a direct benefit to the Battlefield to offset the adverse impact.”
Yet she establishes no timeline for such discussions, which only the SCC has legal authority to compel. There is no implication that she will seek a hearing if HNWD fails to agree to a “mitigation package.” She does not define “affected stakeholders” or the mechanism by which their concerns might be heard or incorporated into a Memorandum of Agreement.
She states: “Provided that all parties could agree to the terms of a mitigation package and execute a Memorandum of Agreement enabling the package, implementation of mitigation could be phased.”
Mitigation package? Phased? Other than not erecting the turbines, or erecting turbines a fifth as tall, there is no physical way to mitigate the visual impact of 19, 400-foot structures arrayed on two ridgetops. Its not as if HNWD can bring in 400-foot-tall trees or build a 400-foot-tall wall to block the view. So, what in the world is Ms. Kilpatrick talking about?
We have no proof. But we do have an educated guess. We believe that Ms. Kilpatrick is talking about money.
Does Money Equal Mitigation? And, if so, How Much is Enough?
The West Virginia Department of Culture and History, recognizing the “adverse impact” of Pinnacle Wind Force on 18 structures located in Mineral County, West Virginia, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, recently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the wind developer. Over the objections of the Mineral County Historical Society, the Mineral County Historical Foundation, and many concerned citizens, the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer, Susan Pierce, agreed to accept a $10,000 “historic preservation grant” as compensation for this adverse impact. The MOA states “the historic preservation grant will be made to and administered by an independent, local community foundation to be established by Pinnacle.”
Yep. You read that right. $10,000 from the wind developer for a foundation to be established by the wind developer. Fair and balanced compensation for 18 sites on the National Register?
We don’t think so.
Read the MOA.If Ms. Kilpatrick is entertaining thoughts of following her West Virginia colleague down this path, we at Brightside believe she needs to be compelled to think again.
Perhaps there exists an amount of money that could appropriately compensate the People of Pocahontas County, and the Nation, for the loss of this special place. We can’t imagine what that amount is, but we are confident that even in a poor county in a poor state, it’s much greater than $10,000.
If it’s monetary mitigation Ms. Kilpatrick seeks, then the People, all of us “affected stakeholders,” must be involved at arriving at the appropriate amount.
Absent a public hearing or any public forum within which the “affected stakeholders” can voice their opinions regarding “mitigation strategies,” all parties cannot, in point of fact, “agree to the terms of a mitigation package.”
This is why the People must demand a public forum where the terms of a mitigation package will be defined and agreed upon.
Please take a moment to email, call, or send a letter to Kathleen Kilpatrick. She works for you. Demand that she set a date for a public forum. If possible, copy your correspondence to Joel Peck, Clerk of the SCC. Please reference case PUE-2009-00092.
Kathleen Kilpatrick, Director
Virginia Department of Historic Resources
2801 Kensington Avenue
Richmond, VA 23221
Joel H. Peck
Clerk of the State Corporation Commission
Document Control Center
P.O. Box 2118
Richmond, VA 23218-2118
or email the Clerk at this address:
Thank You! Your Efforts Are Making a Difference.
Related posts: “Email to Governor Joe Manchin questioning the decision by the WV Division of Culture and History to allow wind installations to negatively impact historic sites.” … “A question for the WV Division of Culture and History – What’s a Historic Civil War Site go for these days?” … “A Conversation with Jon Boone – Industrial Wind and the Environment” … “West Virginia: “It’s Wild” – “It’s Wonderful” and “It’s For Sale!” … CHEAP!”