Monday March 18, 2013

It is with pride, excitement and appreciation that I begin my 3-year term as a member of the Southwest Vermont Regional Technical School Board. Thank you for your vote; I am honored to have your trust and confidence. I believe in the SVRTSD mission, goals and objectives. This is the perfect opportunity to give back to my community and to my alma mater.

JESSICA GULLEY-WARD

Bennington

Of turbine blades and ospreys

Does anyone else see the stunning irony? The Green Mountain Power (Gaz Metro) corporation is currently accepting nominations for the 2013 GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award. Let me process this by looking briefly into the history and potential future of the work of environmentalist Meeri Zetterstrom (1921-2010). Finnish-born Meeri (Tikkanen) Zetterstrom eventually settled with her husband near Lake Arrowhead in Vermont, and she dedicated the last two decades of her life to saving the osprey population both around Lake Arrowhead and the state of Vermont, where the raptor species had practically disappeared. She must have felt so very gratified to see the bird removed from the state’s endangered species list in 2005. She died in 2010, and I had read in an obituary in a January 2010 Rutland Herald where it was published that she’d asked "that people celebrate her life by carrying on her love for the ospreys and nature."

It is fitting that she should be recognized. It is fitting that an environmental award be named after her, due to her tireless advocacy for the once-endangered osprey. What is disconcerting and sadly ironic, though, is that her great efforts are to be thwarted by the Georgia Mountain wind project that is not far from the Lake Arrowhead region. What would this woman, this passionate advocate for the osprey and the environment, think of the inefficient, greenwashed industrial-scale turbine project set so close to the now-thriving species she worked so hard to protect.

I understand that a raptor hunts with extremely honed precision and would so then, in such flight, be oblivious to the chopping action of spinning turbine blades. I also understand stakeholders and Big Wind promoters downplay this aspect of wind turbine projects, and that there is widespread denial of bird-and-bat takes. And when I think of how the current administration had tweaked federal legislation to allow for legal takes of endangered bird species by wind turbines, including bald eagles and golden eagles, I do so wonder how it all would strike Meeri Zetterstrom. I wonder what she’d have to say in her spirited manner and voice, to Green Mountain Power, for their Lowell Mountain turbines and their environmental impacts and their tremendous potential to kill birds. And I wonder how upset she would be by the idea that the Georgia Mountain industrial turbine project stands overshadowing the region where she lived and worked, threatening the raptors she loved and for whom she inexhaustibly fought.

VANESSA MILLS HOLMQUIST

Pittsford