Time is now to save Peninsular Farms
You can toss your trust in big business – in this case a big public utility, First Energy – right down the same big black hole that you toss your trust in big government.
As for a reason, know that FirstEnergy again is pursuing the possible construction of transmission lines on Peninsular Farms, a historic, scenic, conservancy-protected site near Fremont in Sandusky County. The utility has filed a motion in Sandusky County Court of Common Pleas against landowner, Don W. Miller, and Black Swamp Conservancy (BSC).
The company wants an injunction to give it access to Peninsular Farms “to conduct preliminary surveys, appraisals, and examinations, before the filing of an eminent domain petition.” A hearing has been set for Aug. 30 with Judge John P. Dewey.
In February, BSC rallied supporters and contacted the local media and elected officials to warn of FirstEnergy’s disregard for the property’s extensive historical significance and natural resource values. An outpouring of public support came about and, as a result, FirstEnergy appeared to back down, said Rob Krain the conservancy’s executive director.
“It seems that they were simply waiting for things to calm down, hoping that we’d all forget about Peninsular Farms,” Krain added.
BSC is consulting its legal counsel to appropriately respond to the motion, but a new public campaign to oppose any utility cuts through the farm is needed – immediately.
Because of the swift-moving procession of legal events, Krain sees the next battleground as the Ohio Power Siting Board, which will be charged with selecting among options presented by First Energy for the transmission line’s path.
Part of a prepared letter to OPSB, which supporters can copy and e-mail to the board, states:
“By cutting a 60-foot-wide path through Peninsular Farms and across the Sandusky River to support two 138,000-volt electric lines, FirstEnergy would rob us and future generations of the scenic beauty, biodiversity, buffer lands, and agricultural productivity that this unique property provides. Peninsular Farms represents everything that makes northwest Ohio special. It harbors three miles of scenic beauty for boaters and fishermen along the Sandusky River. It supports more than 200 acres of prime Ohio farmland – some of the most productive in the state. And, the property features over 200 acres of woods, meadows, wetlands, and riparian areas that are home to deer, great horned owls, hawks, and countless other species. Last, but by no means least, Peninsular Farms is home to two pairs of bald eagles and their active nests.
“Not only is this an amazing natural area, but the farm has historical significance as well. In 1781, the Wyandot Tribe gave this land to James and Elizabeth Whittaker, making them the first white settlers north of the Ohio River between Pittsburgh and Detroit. The Whittakers established a trading post here, which was burned down by British soldiers during the war of 1812 (the foundation of which is still located here), and are buried on the property. ”
Peninsular Farms is also significant in that it is protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement held by the Black Swamp Conservancy.
“This commitment to the community is an invaluable gift to future generations. Mr. Miller has tied his own hands and those of his heirs to ensure this special place will never be degraded,” states a BSC-authored letter.
There are alternative paths that FirstEnergy could use that would avoid running high-voltage power lines through Peninsular Farms. OPSC should reject any application that First Energy may propose, which would result in the placement of transmission lines on the historic Peninsular Farms and avoid what would be a conservation tragedy for many generations to come.
So, send a letter of support for Peninsular Farms to the Ohio Power Siting Board – today. Go to the BSC website, www.blackswamp.org, and click on Info Center, “Help Us Save Peninsular Farms!” Then click as indicated for a letter of support template (simply copy letter, include your contact information, and send).
Or, you can contact the siting board at 1-866-270-6772 and by e-mail at OPSB@puc.state.oh.us.
Your help is important. Krain said that First Energy has not responded to his attempts to contact them, and that the utility now may argue that it has mitigated the protested transmission path across the farm and thus addressed the concerns. That is because the new path just cuts a corner, more or less, rather than plowing right through. Uh huh. Like 80-foot power poles and heavy humming lines overhead are a scenic addition to the area’s natural, historic ambience.
There are other routes for this transmission line – its intrinsic necessity is not the question. The route easily could follow or parallel other scars of uglification that we are so ignorantly and mindlessly capable of making. But the path need not be drawn by aloof, arrogant hands and approved by blind consent, in the process ruining one of our region’s dwindling natural treasures.