American Chestnut Trees and Wind Farms

The American Chestnut tree was wiped out initially by the unknowing import of infected Asian nursery stock in the late 19th C. The fungus girdled the inner bark with its mycelium, cutting off the tree’s water and nutrient supplies. Despite all efforts to stop it from spreading, the 1938 hurricane gave the disease the final stronghold that could not be broken.

 As a result, Appalachia lost a major source of it’s sustenance and livelihood. There, many chestnut trees grew 120 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter. Chestnut mast was sometimes more than a foot deep in the fall and provided bountiful food for families and their animals, and a trading livelihood as well, according to Eric Rutgow in his book, American Canopy. The wood was also used for furniture, rail ties, tanning, and more. Loss of the tree impacted the country’s health and well being and was considered one of the worst ecological disasters in US history.

 Plant pathology was in its infancy and laws protecting trees came up against the same problems we face today as we attempt long range planning and regulation of energy, and with similar results.

 In New Hampshire, on the heels of Hydro Quebec’s Northern Pass Project which threatens our forests, real estate, and livelihood, in addition to potential health problems, we now have another energy struggle with an equally glaring lack of long range planning threatening our state and our health. Residents were not prepared for the noise and the strobe lights for air safety that robbed them of quiet days and nights under the stars with the rest of wildlife, the reason people live in New Hampshire or vacation here. Wildlife habitat is being destroyed and we have another potential catastrophe in the cobweb of transmission lines the Wind Farms plan to erect.

 All this in a state whose normal weather includes ice storms, hurricanes and variable winds that continually blow down existing overhead lines, compromising road safety and homes. The grid planned for transmission looks like a giant cobweb girdling the entire state of NH. Wind Farms have big plans ahead.

 Like the American Chestnut tree fungus, the Wind Farms are the result of a foreign import. Nearly one quarter of the 16 billion dollar grant approved in renewable energy projects as of December, 2012, has gone to subsidiaries of some of the largest and already best situated, foreign energy companies. This program, according to the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, was ostensibly aimed at stimulating the US economy which it failed to do. The committee found that Iberdola, A US division of the Spanish parent company, was one of the largest 1603 grant-recipients.

 Fairfield, NY is learning the hard way about the devastating effects of the Hardscrabble Wind Power on their community. Their people fell for the corporate hype to their demise.

The American Chestnut tree fungus had entrenched itself before it could be stopped. Now is the time to be sure that each of our towns know what permitting wind power means in the long run if we want to prevent expensive bailout struggles later to save our way of life and the land we share with all life.

 

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2 Responses to “American Chestnut Trees and Wind Farms”

  1. Ken Says:

    Your article on windfarms and American chestnuts really hit home.
    I grew up in New Hampshire, but returned to my “roots” in upstate New York to grow American chestnuts (that I have been breeding for almost 30 years). That was five years ago and I purchased over 6 stunningly gorgeous acres in the country to establish an experimental orchard where I have planted over 300 American chestnuts collected from two dozen populations of surviving trees around the country.
    Two years later I was informed that there would be a windfarm bordering my land and four or five of the airlines sized wind-turbines surrounding me.
    I have seen them in the midwest on big cattle farms, so I was familiar with the massive structures and high-pitched sounds they generate.
    The company building them is from the United Kingdom via Canada.
    People that live near them have stated quality of life is lost from the high-pitched sound, the destruction of views and the “flicker effect” as the blades pass the sun. The cobweb of wires is new to me.
    I did speak out against them, but the local farmers stand to gain large amounts of money, so that did not go well for me.
    We also sit on the Marcellus shale and all the surrounding land-owners have sold lease rights to the fracking gas drillers, and the law set up by Dick Cheney( Haliburton) allows them to drill under my orchard.
    I understand the need for energy and the economics involved, but it sure changes the nature, and harmony of a beautiful countryside.

    • elizabethterp Says:

      Ken- I applaud your efforts to bring back the American Chestnut amidst such an environmental struggle. An organization that is helping us to stop corporations from taking our water, putting up power lines and wind farms is CELDF Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. They are based in Pennsylvania and help communities to pass Rights Based Ordinances in their towns. Their website is celdf.org.
      Thanks for your response,
      Elizabeth

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