The Wilderness Society and Defenders of Wildlife issued the following statement after the U.S. Forest Service denied an appeal challenging the proposed Deerfield wind project.
The groups filed the appeal on February 24, challenging several aspects of the Forest Service’s special use permit for the project, including incomplete analysis and road building in a roadless area.
“It is disappointing that the Forest Service is pushing forward on this project, despite the lack of proper analysis of alternative locations. Clean, renewable energy is the right thing, but the Deerfield project is the wrong place,” said Leanne Klyza-Linck, assistant vice president for eastern conservation with The Wilderness Society.
“The proposed Deerfield project will be in a unique natural area that should be kept off-limits to development,” said Pete Nelson from Defenders of Wildlife. “A more thoughtful approach to clean energy development can produce renewable energy and protect remaining wild lands. Clean energy is an essential part of our energy future, but it need not be built in places that are certain to generate conflict and controversy. This could have been avoided if the Forest Service had done a better job of planning.”
In its decision, the Forest Service acknowledged that this project has been developed without the benefit of the most recent information on the deadly white nose syndrome, which affects many bat species throughout the country and has killed an estimated 7 million bats to date. The project will be put on hold until new information can be properly considered. We look forward to reviewing new analysis on the project’s impacts on bats.
In addition, the groups want the Forest Service to establish policies for developing wind resources in a way that is compatible with sensitive wildlife, wild lands, and a range of other key values found on our National Forests by making it clear which areas are—and are not—appropriate for these projects. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is conducting its own resource inventory to identify sensitive habitats where wind development is inappropriate and places where such projects can proceed without undue environmental harm. Such a forward-looking approach would avoid this kind of controversy.
“There aren’t many truly wild places left in the Northeast,” said Klyza-Linck. “Hopefully the Forest Service will keep that in mind as they develop future renewable energy plans.”