By Miriam Raftery
Photo: McCain Valley, before construction
February 16, 2017 (McCain Valley) – The Department of the Interior temporarily shut down construction of the Tule Wind Energy project in McCain Valley on January20th due to six confirmed violations of the right-of-way grant conditions, including “three incidents of ground disturbing work without a cultural monitor present and three incidents of clearing beyond the disturbance limits at four different locations,” according to the notice of temporary suspension issued January 20th.
The notice added that while no biological or cultural resource damage had been confirmed as of that date, “violations are repeated and their frequency is increasing.”
The site is rich in Native American cultural resources dating back thousands of years, as well as sensitive biological species. The project was approved over the objection of some tribal and environmental groups.
Construction at the Tule Wind site began on December 6, 2016, within the McCain Valley National Land and Wildlife Management Area and McCain Valley Recreation Area.
Construction was authorized to resume on February 1st, according to a 31-page notice to proceed.
Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Planning Group and founder of Backcountry Against Dumps which sued in an unsuccessful effort to block the controversial project, told ECM, “I have not had the heart to go out to that area to see the destruction from Tule Wind's construction. But others have been and have told me they are devastated at what they see, including a local cowboy who used to run cattle out there before the BLM terminated all grazing leases to protect the chaparral and then basically changed the zoning to industrial for Tule Wind's benefit.”
The project includes 62 wind turbines on 12,360 acres of public land, which will have a capacity to produce 186 megawatts of wind energy power upon completion, according to the project website.