Friday, January 25, 2008

Press Issues

Sometimes I got to be in the middle of great pitched word battles between forces beyond my control, purposefully (?) and that involves what many would, given the choice, maybe walk away from. For example, the environmental health issues that arise alongside large projects that require, by law an archaeological assessment and if needed testing and data recovery, i.e., EPA: Marathon Battery Superfund site in Cold Spring, NY, once also home to the large 19th c. West Point Foundry, across the river from "The Point"; PCB Upper Hudson River cleanup, that for most is just starting, for me start back in the early 1980s on surveys; a few in New Jersey, one on the Delaware River, others in the Hackensack Meadowlands, or next door to some of its most vocal critics, in Neptune, NJ; others involving burials of old New York, it's first Almshouse (or "poorhouse") or in Ohio the buried descendants of the Shakers of Watervliet, in New York, today, a famous arms research arsenal like perhaps another I was on the survey of when non-weapon anthrax was found in the US mails, at Picatinney Arsenal in NJ and the West Point Academy in NY; being inspected then and after to do archaeology there and later at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, overseen by armed service people there and more recently at Quantico, Virginia, as examples.

Recently I wrote I was hired to do some survey in the Green Mountain National Forest alongside a windfarm there on federal property, for a proposed expansion of the windmills generating electricity for Vermont's Sleepy Hollow Substation, the road nearby. That required carrying screens, shovels and other equipment up on the planned ridges, in what turned out to be light snow, and digging .5m x .5m x 1m deep square shovel-tests and screening all the materials for potential artifacts within GPS found boundaries of former surveys where the impacts of construction are or will be. We three crew had an interesting time there a short distance, enough to pop your ears anyway, from Bennington, Vermont, where snowmobile tours are offered in the winter. Today, most newspapers carry "letters" for a short time and I thought this letter, a "stonecrop" (quarry flower) that I would share to show sometimes this field I work in is not always what it seems:

Not feeling the shame

Editor of the Reformer:

I feel the need to defend myself, my position and to educate your readers, especially the author of the Oct. 10 letter, "Backyard views don't rival climate change." That author, when he wrote "Shame on the letter writer, only thinking of her backyard views," apparently believes my only reason for opposing Deerfield Wind's proposed energy facility project in Searsburg and Readsboro is that my ridgeline view will be ruined. Untrue. For the record, I live within one mile of this proposed project. I would hear the wind turbines from my home but probably not see them. There are many negative aspects of this particular proposed project. Allow me to list some of them here, condensed for space constraints:

1. This proposed project would destroy 80 acres of pristine ridgeline on National Forest Service land. This would set a detrimental precedent for this state and the nation.

2. The U.S. Forest Service's 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Green Mountain National Forest identifies 37 sites, with a total of 19,700 acres, as viable and suitable locations for wind power development. This proposed site in Searsburg and Readsboro is one of these sites that the Forest Service has classified as "Diverse Forest Use."

3. Seventeen 410-foot-tall turbines are proposed. They would be 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. The existing Searsburg turbines are just under 200 feet tall.

4. The turbines will have red flashing lights per FAA regulations which will make our clear Vermont night skies a thing of the past.

5. Not enough energy will be produced (a potential maximum of only 1.5 percent of Vermont's annual load) to warrant the sacrifice of our National Forest lands.

6. The turbines are so tall that migrating birds and bats will be susceptible to colliding with the rotating blades and killed.

7. The beech stand most used by bears in this state (almost 500 trees) will be destroyed.

8. More than 50 homes are located within one mile of this proposed site.

9. Numerous documented medical studies have shown many adverse health effects of wind power for those living closest to turbines from the noise and shadows of the blades. These include insomnia, irritability, depression and many other conditions.

10. Wind energy is not entirely "clean" energy. Fossil fuels are still required to power the turbines.

11. There are no guarantees that any energy produced will be available to local residents or even other Vermonters. It will be sold to the grid.

12. This proposed site, on National Forest land remember, will be closed to the public, denying all of us our rights to snowmobile, hike, or hunt on that land.

13. When the turbines are finally decommissioned, the area will never return to pre-existing conditions. Tons of concrete and rebar will be left in the ground forever.

14. And, yes, current pristine ridgeline views for miles around will be ruined. These proposed turbines with red flashing lights are so massive that they will be a blight on the land.

In my original letter of Oct. 12, I mentioned that these proposed turbines would be visible from many towns merely to point out that this project will not only affect Searsburg and Readsboro. If turbines are allowed to be built on National Forest land, it will start a freight train of ridgeline industrialization that we will not be able to stop. If the author of "Backyard View" had read my entire letter, he would have read my statement "Alternate energy sources are needed and should be developed, but a wooded ridgeline in a National Forest is definitely not the right place for a wind energy project." As for the giant lit turbines, if the author of "Backyard View," after reading all these negatives and educating himself about wind energy, would still "welcome the day they sit in my fields," then good for him. I think he, and others who feel the same way, should contact wind farm developers and offer their own private land as future sites. That would save me and everyone else fighting this proposed Searsburg/Readsboro project (and there are many of us) a lot of time and money.

Jeanette Lee

Searsburg, Oct. 24

It appeared in Brattleboro Reformer in the 14th of the original states of the United States of America.

I find it an interesting connection between Captain Hulbert, of Bridgehampton, NY, his father a cobbler there next to the Sag Harbor Turnpike, that he who served with the Green Mountain Boys, and it is written that he is said to have submitted a flag for the design of the US Flag, a 19th century facsimile of which purports to represent it in the Suffolk County Museum in Riverhead, Long Island, NY. That "Hulbert Flag" was studied by the Smithsonian Institution textile experts and said to have been made at the earliest, on a 19th century machine loom, casting doubt on the stripes and 13 stars in the shape of the "Seal of Solomon" or what is today called the "Star of David". However, it's known he did submit one and the Green Mountain Boys, had one too, a flag that is, of the stars in a constellation of sorts, the actual placement in the sky one would have to research, perhaps over the mountains near Bennington, Vermont?

One of them, Ethan Allen was reportedly tortured by a British Major Cunningham in the prison once next to City Hall Park, in New York City, which the 1903 NY Times reported as "blacker than any Black hole of Calcutta" (which in itself is also controversial) and that the Major had a predilection for that infamous practice as did many of the armies of the world, less we hope today by agreement, an agreement thought needless by the current administration, it's been reported. Back in 1999, when then Mayor Giuliani came out to visit the "almshouse" burials I was working on that summer, I would sometimes wonder about the remains so close to that infamous prison setting, and wonder if enough forensics were being brought to bear to determine the "facts" temporary though employed, I had researched the "finding" of it, next to Horace Greeley's statue, for a number of years with a number of archaeologists as impacts permitted examination often not in the right location. One would hope no "unknown" Vermont American Revolutionary War soldier is buried in City Hall Park under New Hampshire's Horace Greeley.

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