Eddie Koch, natural resources director for the Wiyot Tribe; Larry Glass, executive eirector of the Northcoast Environmental Center; Debra Garnes, mayor of the City of Rio Dell; Dr. Cheryl A. Seidner, cultural liaison for the Wiyot Tribe; Frank Bacik, president of the Town of Scotia, LLC; and Adam Canter, botanist for the Wiyot Tribe. | Photo courtesy City of Rio Dell.

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Press release from the City of Rio Dell:

On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes met with groups aligning in opposition to the Terra Gen wind energy proposal slated for Monument and Bear River Ridges.

The group included Dr. Cheryl A. Seidner, Cultural Liaison for the Wiyot Tribe; Eddie Koch, Natural Resources Director for the Wiyot Tribe; Adam Canter, Botanist for the Wiyot Tribe; Frank Bacik, President of the Town of Scotia, LLC & Larry Glass, Executive Director of the Northcoast Environmental Center. The group met on the site where twenty (20) wind towers are proposed to be located on Bear River Ridge. Another twenty‐seven (27) would be placed on nearby Monument Ridge.

“I was disappointed to hear that Terra‐Gen was giving no consideration to the cultural impact these towers would have on the Wiyot Tribe,” stated Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes. ”I wanted to hear from the Wiyot firsthand and let them know that they are not alone.”

Many of the towers and turbines could be as tall as 650 feet and Terra‐Gen would need to clear and level a three‐acre area around each turbine base in order to provide support.

Garnes continued, “The impact will be devastating and highly visible from Rio Dell, Fortuna, Kneeland and even as far as South Fork Mountain. The grading for twenty towers alone means a permanently terraced ridgetop. This cannot be a project that is approved, much less rushed through the way it is.” The final EIR was released on November 4th and the first hearing held at the Planning commission on November 7th. The Planning Commission could take action as soon as November 14th.  

Later on during the evening of November 12th, the Rio Dell City Council met to consider its position on the Final Environmental Impact Report for the project. The Council voted 4‐0 (Councilmember Woodall absent) to oppose the project and to send a letter to the Humboldt County Planning Commission.

“The applicant is requesting and the [county] FEIR supports earth moving activities during the winter months,” the council letter states, referring to a three‐acre leveled pad that must be created adjacent to each of the project’s 47 turbines. (That’s over 140 acres of ridgetop that must be leveled.)

The Council went on to call this activity “reckless” and “irresponsible” given the erosion prone soils and known geological instability of the area hills.  

The letter goes on to state:

In regards to the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP), the City is disappointed that it was not included in the FEIR as required by Section 15097 of the CEQA Guidelines.  Without this important component of the FEIR, it is very difficult if not impossible for the City, the public and decision makers to determine how effective the proposed Mitigation Measures will be. It should be noted that the agreement between the County and Environmental Consultant AECOM, clearly states (Board Item C‐20, June 19, 2018, page 34) that the required MMRP would be included in the FEIR.

The Council’s letter lists a number of impacts to the community, including impacts to transportation and negative impacts to property values among others. It can be read at the City’s website www.cityofriodell.ca.gov.

The next Planning Commission meeting on proposed wind energy development will be held on Thursday, November 14th at 4 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors Chambers.