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Minidoka National Historic Site Integrity Threatened

Light blue vertical lines are rows of wind turbines proposed for the Lava Ridge Wind Farm Project. Map: Dan Sakura, Sakura Conservation Strategies

By David Yamaguchi The North American Post

On Wednesday, June 29, Friends of Minidoka convened a “last minute” 45-minute Zoom meeting attended by about 36 on the current status of the Lava Ridge Wind Farm project. It is planned for the landscape immediately north of the Minidoka National Historic Site, Idaho.

To bring the reader up to speed on the developing story, the large-scale alternative energy project would desecrate “the psychological and physical feelings of remoteness and isolation one experiences when visiting Minidoka NHS” (NAP, Sep. 24, 2021). Standing between the project and its permit are the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review process of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The Acts require federal agencies permitting projects to evaluate environmental effects and effects on historic properties. As the land under discussion is Bureau of Land Management (BLM) federal land, the Lava Ridge project is subject to the provisions of both Acts.

As described by activist Dan Sakura of Sakura Conservation Strategies, the project planners hope to essentially “buy off” competing National Park Service and Japanese American interests through mitigation measures. However, he sees all such efforts as inappropriate and inadequate. He instead seeks to put the wind farm on “pause” for about five years to give the BLM time to first update its overall Monument Resource Management Plan; it was developed in 1985 with a “15-20-year lifespan.” He points out that without such comprehensive planning for the Minidoka NH site vicinity, the site will continue to be under threat from development interests seeking to exploit the BLM’s out-of-date landscape management. 

It is not only the NPS and JAs who perceive the development a threat to Minidoka. As pointed out by Robin Achilles of the Friends of Minidoka, the National Trust for Historic Preservation identifies Minidoka as “one of 11 most endangered historic places in 2022” (savingplaces.org). 

What can readers do? The most effective thing is to W-R-I-T-E. 

Achilles: “Write your story, why the integrity of the Minidoka site matters to you.” 

Robyn Achilles of Friends of Minidoka.
Photo: Zoom screenshot DY

To dissuade the BLM from approving the wind farm, in full or in part, their “Lava Ridge Subcommittee” needs to hear from a large number of dissenting voices. They will need such letters soon. The draft EIS is expected in September and will have a 45-day comment period.

Info:magicvalleyenergy.com, minidoka.org, stoplavaridge.com

Write: Julie Clark, BLM Twin Falls District, jdclark@blm.gov

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David Yamaguchi is a third-generation Japanese American [Sansei]. He has written for the Post since 2006, at first as a volunteer, later as a paid freelancer. He joined the paper's staff in May 2020, when he began learning how articles flow from Word files through layout to social media.