To the editor: MTL seeks to be part of global warming solution

Like the Windham Foundation, our family through Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd. is committed to the vitality of rural communities. Working lands are a key component of vibrant rural communities. But with plummeting timber values and the effects of climate change altering the forest itself, we can no longer manage the forest on timber sales alone.

Letter to the editor logo2After 20 years of managing the Stiles Brook Forest in an environmentally conscious and sustainable manner, we see the development of the Stiles Brook Wind Project as the best path to continue that management, promote rural vitality and help fight climate change. We too care about rural beauty and vitality, which is precisely why we are developing the Stiles Brook Wind Project.

Thus we were very disappointed to learn that the Windham Foundation decided to oppose the Stiles Brook Wind Project on our land.

Perhaps if the foundation had spoken with us, the largest landowner in Grafton and Windham, before making a decision, it would have learned critical facts about the project and the foundation’s concerns could have been addressed before sending a letter to the editor that is steeped in misinformation.

What’s most disappointing is that the logic the foundation uses to oppose the project is based on one-sided and inaccurate information provided by the professional anti-wind movement and not the scientists or engineers who are experts in their fields. Doing so has led them to draw conclusions based on speculation and innuendo that do nothing to further productive dialogue on the most pressing issue of our time — climate change. By relying on erroneous statements as the rationale for their opposition they directly harm the clean energy progress that must be made if we are going to be successful in dealing with this issue in Vermont and beyond.

The Stiles Brook Wind Project will not only maintain our ability to manage the forest in a sustainable manner and provide local people with continued access to the land for hiking, hunting, snowmobiling and other recreational activities, it will provide the communities of Windham and Grafton with a significant economic benefits package.

The foundation based its opposition, in part, on the fact that a small number of residents (those with a household income of less than $25,000) are already in large part held harmless from property tax payments and will therefore not also realize the property tax reductions that this project will offer.

If the Windham Foundation Board had bothered to speak with us before announcing its opposition, members would have learned that the project’s revised proposal addresses this by including a direct annual payment to all permanent residents of Windham of roughly $1,162 and to all permanent residents of Grafton of roughly $428, (based on the current number of registered voters.) This benefits package was based on feedback from community members who were frustrated that the tax relief from the project would give a larger break to those with more expensive properties. Iberdrola’s final proposal is aimed at equitably distributing economic benefits across both communities, including property owners and renters.

The foundation also erroneously suggests that this large-scale renewable energy project is not needed because it claims that Vermont is well on its way to meeting its renewable energy (and thus climate change) goals.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Vermont’s goal of having 90 percent of its energy usage derived from renewable sources by 2050 is for all sectors – electricity, heating and transportation. We are far off from meeting this goal, and it will require substantial shifts in heating and transportation away from fossil fuel and toward electricity produced by renewables.

MTL reached out to Iberdrola Renewables more than four years ago to see if the site would be appropriate for a wind farm because we know that climate change has arrived.

We see it in our stressed trees, new invasive-exotic diseases and insects and in the booming tick population that is decimating our moose. As stewards of the land, we believe it is our responsibility to be a part of the solution. Sitting back and asserting that we are already doing enough and falsely claiming that we are already meeting our goals is exactly the kind of short-sighted thinking that put our planet in peril in the first place. Our economic vitality, our rural character and our children and grandchildren depend on us being part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Jameson French
French Family
Meadowsend Timberlands LLC

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  1. Kathy says:

    Please explain how developing wind turbines helps decrease the tick population and eliminates invasive exotic disease. Is it by leveling the trees? Destroying existing habitats? I’m sorry to come across as skeptical.

    There is mention that land will be available for local people to enjoy recreationally. How large is the forest, how much is currently accessible to the public? How much area will be cleared for turbines and related structures along with access roads? Once the project is complete, how much forest will remain and how many acres will still be open for recreational use?

    Whose economic vitality is protected when the project is in the hands of a foreign company with some past dealings considered questionable? How many permanent local jobs will this create? How many 2nd homeowners will sell or tourists stay away?

    How much of the power generated will stay in Vermont? Are there tax abatements or incentives being given to develop this land?

    The pieces of silver given local registered voters are chump change.

  2. Vance Bell says:

    Really!! Just say you are in it for the money – period.

  3. Train says:

    I would like to read a reply by the Windham Foundation to this excellent letter.