Bingham Wind Agreement Provides for Appalachian Trail Conservation
Blue Sky West, a subsidiary of First Wind, and a coalition of non-profit organizations representing the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) jointly announced an agreement to protect Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) viewshed lands in Maine through creation of a dedicated $700,000 land conservation fund.
The nationally recognized 2,180-plus-mile Appalachian Trail footpath stretches from Maine to Georgia. The Appalachian Trail Coalition groups, which include the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) and Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), are dedicated to the protection and preservation of the ANST and user experience of the viewshed. First Wind develops, builds and operates renewable energy projects, including five operating wind farms in Maine as well as the proposed Bingham Wind project, a 62 turbine wind energy facility located in Bingham, Kingsbury Plantation, Mayfield Township, Parkman and Abbott, Maine.
A.T. coalition groups have concerns on the potential impact that this and other projects may have on the ANST viewshed, 'Our organizations recognize that all energy generation sources have environmental impacts. The Bingham Wind project is no exception and it will have an expected visual presence on the A.T.' said AMC's director of research Ken Kimball who worked on the agreement. 'The A.T. coalition organizations appreciate First Wind's willingness to voluntarily work with us to mitigate this project's impacts and to protect lands with a connection to the ANST viewshed.'
In an effort to work constructively to mitigate the visual effects that existing and future wind development may have on the ANST in Maine, First Wind and the A.T. coalition groups finalized an agreement that includes creation of a dedicated fund for conserving land with a connection to the ANST viewshed. The Orbeton Stream Conservation Easement Project to protect 5,800 acres along the ANST in the western Maine high peaks area has been identified by the A.T. coalition groups as the intended recipient of the first $150,000 from the conservation fund. This would help complete the funding necessary to close on that important project.
'The Maine Appalachian Trail Club recognizes First Wind's efforts at further protecting land from development near the A.T. corridor. With these safeguards in place, our focus will shift to mitigate local impacts on the land near Bald Mountain Pond, Moxie Bald Mountain and Pleasant Pond Mountain,' said Lester Kenway, president of MATC. 'The Club's approach is striking a balance between protection of the A.T. with regard to the need for renewable energy.'
In addition to the dedicated conservation land fund, First Wind has agreed not to propose any additional turbines to the Bingham Wind Project that would be any closer to the ANST and to install radar-activated lights on its Bingham wind turbines once the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves this technology. The use of radaractivated lighting allows the required FAA lighting to remain off except when aircraft are in the area of the project, thereby significantly reducing potential impacts of night time lighting. Based on the measures reflected in the agreement, the A.T. coalition groups do not oppose the Bingham project.
'The Appalachian Trail Conservancy believes that we have a workable agreement with First Wind to help mitigate the potential day and nighttime visual impacts to the Appalachian Trail,' said Ron Tipton, executive director/CEO of the ATC.
'We're proud to work with the Appalachian Trail Coalition Groups to pro-actively protect important, high-priority environmental resources and areas in Maine and along the A.T. This agreement reflects the importance that there be clean sources of renewable energy in Maine balanced with protecting important viewsheds,' said Matt Kearns, vice president of business development for First Wind. 'The clean energy from this project will power the equivalent of about 90,000 homes-a-year. We are proud to work with good partners to be good stewards of Maine's environment and its energy future.'
About the Appalachian Mountain Club
Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club is America's oldest conservation and recreation organization. With more than 100,000 members, advocates, and supporters in the Northeast and beyond, the nonprofit AMC promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of the Appalachian region. The AMC supports natural resource conservation while encouraging responsible recreation, based on the philosophy that successful, long-term conservation depends upon first-hand enjoyment of the natural environment. AMC maintains 350 miles of the A.T. For more information on AMC, please visit www.outdoors.org
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park Service, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,185 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail - ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.
About the Maine Appalachian Trail Club
MATC manages and maintains the 267 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Founded in 1935, MATC is an all-volunteer, donor-supported nonprofit that welcomes new members and inspires respect for this natural treasure. In 2013, nearly 400 volunteers logged more than 24,000 hours of service during the season. For more information on MATC, please visit www.matc.org or www.facebook.com/MaineATC.
About First Wind
First Wind develops, finances, builds and operates utility-scale renewable energy projects throughout the United States. Based in Boston, First Wind currently operates wind power facilities in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii, with combined capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) - enough to power about 300,000 U.S. homes each year. For more information on First Wind, please visit www.firstwind.com or follow us on Twitter @FirstWind.
For more information:
179 Lincoln St
United States, 02111
First Wind, Director, Communications
Dr. Kenneth Kimball, Director of Research
Appalachian Mountain Club
Rob Burbank, Director of Media and Public Affairs
Appalachian Mountain Club
Tel: (603) 466-8155