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Cypress Wind Farm Not Green Use of Environmentally Significant Public Land

Alberta Wilderness
Association

A wind farm is being proposed next to Cypress Hills Provincial Park on
environmentally sensitive native prairie. The Alberta Wilderness Association
(AWA) is generally supportive of renewable energy developments as
alternatives to fossil fuel production; however, they must be subject to
rigorous environmental assessment and public involvement and they must not
damage environmentally sensitive lands, especially those in public ownership.
Locating wind farms on internationally significant grasslands in the Cypress
Hills does not represent sustainable green energy production.

"AWA is extremely concerned about the lack of a Public Lands Policy and
the ongoing lack of public involvement in decisions that negatively impact
environmentally significant public lands," says Cliff Wallis, AWA
Past-President. "This area has been identified in studies funded by the
Alberta government and international conservation organizations as being of
national or international environmental significance due to the extent and
quality of the grassland and associated plants and animals."

The wind farm proposal by Ontario-based West WindEau Corporation will
cover a township (almost 100 sq. km) of largely native prairie starting a
mile west of the Graburn Road at the Cypress Hills Provincial Park boundary
running west along the boundary five miles and north seven miles. The area
lies mostly within the County of Cypress' Cypress Hills fringe area structure
plan which maintains a buffer zone around the Park as agricultural land and
specifies the importance of protecting viewscapes. The wind turbines will be
120 m high and construction will require many new roads capable of
withstanding 500 ton crane trucks. Local ranchers may be paid as much as
$10,000/quarter section per year on private lands or leased Public Lands on
which the wind turbines will be built.

AWA has been informed by local residents that Alberta Public Lands
apparently has no objections to this proposal. West WindEau held a public
meeting last week in Medicine Hat; however, the standard mode of operation is
that decisions on public lands are made behind closed doors with no public
involvement. Despite public protest, environmentally sensitive public
grasslands with plant and animal species at risk were sold in the Bow Island
area and cultivated for potato production within the last two years without
any public involvement or concern about the loss of biodiversity.

"We are opposed to private interests benefiting from the destruction of
these environmentally sensitive public lands," adds Wallis. "We are also
opposed to any change in use designation from agricultural and its associated
viewscape protection to allow this industrial activity on private lands. Some
of the deeded lands in this area have conservation easements and the terms do
not allow wind farm development."

For more information contact:
Cliff Wallis, Past-President, Alberta Wilderness Association (403)
271-1408
Shirley Bray, Alberta Wilderness Association (403) 283-2025

Posted February 22, 2005 by russ

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