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Hunter Carbee: Ability to manage private lands is under attack

February 02. 2014 4:54PM

For more than four decades, there has been extensive immigration from the urban megalopolis of southern New England to New Hampshire. It has now drastically changed the demographics of a once rural, conservative, working community. A beautiful landscape and a low-tax environment compared to our neighboring states has attracted thousands of new residents over the years. Folks used to living in an asphalt/concrete, urban environment, seeking escape to the beauty of New Hampshire are now instituting a powerful voice in the future of private landownership rights.

In just the past year, media reports have covered many situations around New Hampshire that constrict the ability of private landowners to manage and provide income for their lands. Recently, a Union Leader article reported on a CSA (community supported agriculture) operation in Wilton that over the years, has successfully grown and started a cafe as part of its business. Neighbors complained that there is now too much traffic due to the increase of business. In Francestown, folks from the region complained about the bright lights of the night skiing on Crotched Mt., even though this has been an accepted part of the rural economy for decades. Last summer, in Hopkinton, a Christmas tree farmer was shut down from being able to lease his property on weekends for weddings, as the neighbors complained of too much traffic.

Now enters Iberdrola Renewables LLC, which seeks to construct wind towers in a remote area of central New Hampshire. Again, people, mostly who have moved here and consider New Hampshire to be their beautiful home oppose the construction of wind towers which would be built miles away from the nearest view of Newfound Lake. Almost daily, New Hampshire newspapers have been reporting on the divisiveness of the issue.

Local grassroots groups sprang up around Newfound Lake to fight the awful thought of the construction of renewable power generation. Backed with strong financial support, these folks have been waging a more than year-long campaign opposing the construction of Wild Meadows Wind Farm, a project that would construct 23 wind towers to produce clean, renewable energy for the northeast region. The anti-wind folks have been very successful, using social media and local lobbying to sway local residents to their opposition. There has been a plethora of misinformation disseminated by slick websites and media lobbying throughout the region and state concerning wind power; so much so that even local politicians in the Newfound region are pandering to the outcries of alleged injustice.

Just how bad is wind power? Opponents have reams of talking points. Property values will go down. Tourists will be appalled. The noise of the fans causes long-term health effects (of some kind). Birds will die. The ridge tops of the hills will be desecrated. There are horrible big-government subsidies provided to the big corporations. The fact of the matter is there is only one, true, talking point: the folks opposed to wind energy do not want to look at the wind towers from their posh homes of Newfound Lake or the hills of the surrounding towns. Period. All of the other talking points are mere lobbying tools being used to justify their cause.

Americans are truly spoiled. They demand cheap gas and cheap energy costs. This will not happen for some time until America becomes energy independent. Nearly 80 percent of the homes around Newfound Lake and within the region are heated by oil. Spoiled Americans drive their fossil-fueled cars (myself included) to Manchester, Concord, Nashua or Boston. And then, there are the boats. Hundreds of fossil-fueled boats that churn and pollute their way through the waters of Newfound Lake during the summer months. Who knows how many are introducing invasive species such as milfoil that will suffocate what was once a pristine lacustrine habitat?

Want to see true environmental desecration? Go on Google Earth, and zoom into Newfound Lake. Zoom closer, until you see the shoreline. Except there is very little shoreline left. The shores of Newfound Lake have been diced with house after house, condos, bungalows and cottages.

The total environment, fractured by paved and gravel roads, pesticide-treated lawns, docks and other infrastructure; each which add to the turbidity, sedimentation and chemical pollution to the surrounding watershed and lake. And aesthetics? Take a drive around Newfound Lake at night and check out the “lake sky.” The carbon footprint from electrical demand is massive. And yet, they don’t want to look at wind towers. The hypocrisy is astounding.

I am a Bristol taxpayer. The benefits of Groton Wind to the town of Groton, a town where the majority of folks struggle to make a living has been a Godsend. Now, the residents of Groton can finally upgrade their roads and bridges, municipal buildings, grounds and more.

The tax benefits to the towns of Danbury and Alexandria, both towns with similar limited tax base will benefit immensely, too. And hopefully this will relieve the tax burden to other communities like Bristol, the hub of services for the Newfound Region. Don’t believe all the signs you see. Don’t believe all the media reports.

The media thrives on conflict and anti-renewable advocates are greatly adept at using this as a resource. In the long run, the Wild Meadows Farm will benefit the entire region, providing increased tax revenues and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Think about it the next time you get home from work and turn on your lights.

Hunter Carbee is a resident of Bristol.

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