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Minidoka ‘Lava Ridge Wind Farm’

Proposed wind turbines and timeline. Images: lavaridgewind.com

By N.A.P.

The Minidoka National Historic Site (NHS), Idaho, is facing a new threat. An open letter from Wade Vagias, Superintendent, Minidoka NHS, describes it, as excerpted below:

“September 12, 2021

“Dear Friends,

“As you may have heard, a large-scale wind-energy project, Lava Ridge (lavaridgewind.com) has been proposed on Federal lands immediately north of Minidoka NHS…

“The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers the public lands where the Lava Ridge Project is proposed to be sited, including a significant portion of Minidoka’s historic 33,000 [acre] footprint…

“Magic Valley Energy… has petitioned the BLM seeking authorization to construct this project… which… would span approximately 76,000 acres and includes constructing up to 400 individual towers at 740’ tall each. For comparison… the Seattle Space Needle is 605 feet. The turbine blades would exceed the wingspan of a Boeing 747. A portion of the Project including 8,533 acres and approximately 14 turbines, would be located within the historic boundary of the original War Relocation Center. We estimate ~324 of the 400 towers would be visible from the Minidoka NHS Visitor Center and towers will span ~115 degrees of the view… looking north from the Visitor Center. The project also proposes seven substations, over 200 miles of transmission lines, battery storage facilities, maintenance facilities, and 400+ miles of roads and crane walking paths.

Lava Ridge Wind Farm Project Area (light blue). The Minidoka site is at “Hunt” (left center).

“BLM compliance process: There are two primary laws that the BLM is required to follow as they evaluate whether to grant authorization for this proposed project: the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). To comply with NEPA, the BLM is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will identify potential issues… disclose them to the public… Concurrently, BLM is implementing Section 106 of NHPA which identifies and assesses the effects of the project on historic properties, including Minidoka NHS… and seeks to resolve those effects through mitigation… Both are underway, with the NHPA slightly ahead…

“The National Park Service has several concerns related to potential impacts from this project… primary amongst them is the potential… to negatively affect the historical integrity of Minidoka NHS, especially the setting, feeling… During World War II, incarceration centers were intentionally placed in remote locations away from population centers, on large tracts of land, with… opportunities to provide work… for the incarcerated Japanese Americans… At Minidoka, JAs built irrigation canals and transformed thousands of acres into productive agricultural land within the 33,000-acre camp… The isolated and undeveloped setting was a defining characteristic of the unjust incarceration experience… Today the remote and agricultural landscape contributes to the site’s historical integrity…

“As proposed, the Lava Ridge Project would fundamentally change the psychological and physical feelings of remoteness and isolation one experiences when visiting Minidoka NHS…

“How you can participate:

“The BLM is currently accepting comments as part of the NEPA scoping phase through [Oct. 20], 2021. Your comments on any aspect of this project are welcomed and encouraged… Email them to BLM_ID_LavaRidge@blm.gov, by mail to Kasey Prestwich, Project Manager, BLM Shoshone Field Office, 400 West F Street, Shoshone, ID 83352…

“You may also request, as part of the NHPA/Section 106 process, to be deemed a “Consulting Party,” which allows you to keep apprised of the project. Here too… contact Kasey Prestwich, kprestwich.blm.org, …

“Lastly, I am available to meet with any individual or group who wish to discuss this… Wade_Vagias@nps.gov…”

Further info:

Friends of Minidoka
http://www.minidoka.org/

Project plan of development
https://go.usa.gov/xFKxg

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The North American Post is a community newspaper that celebrates Japanese culture in the Greater Seattle area. Founded by 1st generation Japanese-Americans in 1902, the publication is one of the oldest minority-owned newspapers in the region. Today, with bilingual articles in English and Japanese, the publication connects readers with diverse cultural backgrounds to Seattle’s Japanese community. Our articles include local news, event calendars, restaurant reviews, Japanese cooking recipes, community interviews, and more.