A Hike up Rumford Whitecap Before the Onslaught of Turbines

On Sunday, October 3, Stephen Watson and I made a pilgrimage up Rumford Whitecap Mountain in Oxford County. I say pilgrimage because this is a stunning and unique mountain, one of the lowest elevations to find sub-arctic flora in the state. It has sweeping 360 degree views from its open ledges. It has always been a favorite hike to me and this year was special, as it is likley the last time to hike this gem and see the viewshed unsullied by industrial wind turbines. I have posted a series of photos, with captions, in this blog.

Rumford Whitecap is so highly regarded that, after years of negotiation, the Mahoosuc Land Trust was able to purchase part of the summit and ensure access. See the Mahoosuc Land Trust link: http://www.mahoosuc.org/whitecap.html The Land Trust spent a lot of money on the project, with $243,000. coming from the Land for Maine's Future Fund---that is taxpayers' money. Yet in spite of the state voting in excess of $200 million of face value plus interest on Land for Maine's Future bonds, the state is promoting industrial wind turbine sites all around these "extraordinary" and "special places" that were purchased for the people, by the people, to preserve.

At Rumford Whitecap, starting just 3 miles to the north, is Partridge Peak, Flathead Mt., and Record Hill, site of Independence Wind's Record Hill Project. The roads created in 2009 by this developer are clearly seen in the photo. It will be the site of 22 turbines. Immediately adjacent to the summit of Rumford Whitecap are North & South Twin Mts. and Black Mt., which First Wind proposes for its "Longfellow" project of 20 turbines. Directly east, across the Androscoggin River Valley, is Spruce Mountain in Woodstock. Patriot Renewables will erect 11 to 17 turbines on that prominent ridge. Looking to the northeast beyond the towns of Rumford and Mexico are two more Patriot Renewables sites: Saddleback Ridge in Carthage for 20 turbines and an equal number in Dixfield on Col. Holman Mt.

If all these proposed projects get built out, this wonderful, stunningly scenic place we have spent public tax money to preserve will have around 100 huge industrial wind turbines surrounding it. It will be ruined forever. I ended my hike that day bittersweet, with the usual hikers' bliss of having climbed into another world of grand vistas, offset by the heartbreak of knowing that should any wind turbines destroy the vista of Rumford Whitecap, I shall never return.

The view north is directly at Partridge Peak, Flathead Mt. and Record Hill, the site of Independence Wind's project. Part of the illegal road system (built without permits or financing secured) is clearly seen.

Black Mt., with its At & T tower, is a half mile away. To the right, you can see a met tower belonging to First Wind, which wants to erect 20 turbines on Black Mt. and North and South Twin Mts to the north. These 3 mountains are separated from the 3 mountains of Independence Wind's project just by a notch. A string of six peaks will be blasted away and twenty two 400 foot tall wind turbines will top them.

The higher ridges in the distance, within 5 miles beyond Rumford and Mexico, are Saddleback Ridge and Col. Holman Mt., where Patriots Renewables wants to place more turbines.

Across the valley in Woodstock is the long ridgeline of Spruce Mt., where Patriot Renewables will erect 11 to 17 (likely more) turbines, clearly visible from nearly a mile of the trail up Rumford Whitecap, after the trail breaks out of the forest and onto the ledges leading to the summit.

View towards Mt. Washington, the high distant peak. How many of these ridgelines will be threatened in the future for the folly of industrial wind? Look closely and you see faintly the trails on the Whitecap part of Sunday River Ski Resort. There is a strong citizens movement in Bethel and Newry to protect the tourism of the area by adopting wind ordinances.

The high peak that is blue in the distance is Baldpate. The Appalachian Trail goes across the entire open ridgeline, with distant views of all the turbines that will surround Rumford Whitecap.

The peak in the distance is Old Speck Mt. in nearby Grafton Notch State Park. The views from the State park will also include most of the turbines. The ridges in the foreground could become targets of the wind developers.

This is me, Brad Blake. I lived near Bethel in the 1970's, when I first discovered Rumford Whitecap. In more than 40 years, I have hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in Maine and climbed just about every major mountain with a trail on it and some with no trails. I have been awed by the spectacular beauty of Maine's mountains and charmed by the subtle vignettes of nature that abound. I strongly believe that industrial wind power development in Maine is a travesty that we will come to regret. I am angry that the political climate of today has allowed such unjustified destruction of rural Maine to take place. Please join in the efforts of the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power to battle this scourge and save Maine's vaunted "Quality of Place". Hike Rumford Whitecap, Tumbledown, Bigelow, and the other great places before they are surrounded by wind turbines. You owe it to your soul.

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Comment by Art Brigades on December 7, 2018 at 1:18pm

Why isn't Mahoosuc Land Trust helping in the fight against this project?

Doesn't FMM help them

Comment by Brad Blake on December 7, 2018 at 1:07pm

Sadly, my prediction came true about wind power projects, just in a slightly different mix.  Directly north, Independence Wind (Angus King & cronies) did build Record Hill wind, shown in the photo here .  Across the Androscoggin River, Spruce Mt. got built.  Down the river, the Saddleback Wind project went in Carthage, but efforts by Friends of Maine's Mountains (FMM) kept turbines away from the summit, resulting in a reduced project.  Further downriver, Canton Mt. was ruined by another Patriot Renewables project.
The Longfellow project on Black Mt. has never come to fruition and the gallant efforts of the Dixfield folks have staved off the destruction of Col. Holman Mt.
Alas, there are still threats in the area.  RoxWind has a current proposal under review with the DEP at South Twin Mt., closer to Rumford Whitecap and with 590 ft tall turbines proposed (in contrast to 479 ft tall Record Hill turbines).  FMM has intervened in the process and likely in January there will be a public hearing.  FMM's case is two fold:  the cumulative impact on Rumford Whitecap as a Scenic Resource of State or National Significance, and the inadequacy of funding for decommissioning, which if decided in favor of FMM could keep the project from going forward financially.
The other threat is across the river near the Spruce Mt. project.  A wind developer wants to ruin the ridges in Milton Plantation.  This is the only Unorganized Territory to have been denied withdrawal from the Expedited Wind Permitting Zone last year in its petition filing with Land Use Planning Commission.  That decision is still on appeal by local people, with seed money from FMM.
Let's hope more wind projects in this region don't get proposed and that Mahoosuc Land Trust vigorously fights against further viewshed spoiling of this and their other preserves.

Comment by Art Brigades on December 7, 2018 at 1:05pm

Not merely revealing...revolting.

DEP now considers "cumulative visual impact" as a factor in determining unreasonable adverse impact, which is basically a kill-shot on a proposed project.  Cumulative impact is considered two ways: too much here and too much everywhere.  Unfortunately beyond 8 miles the law tells DEP to disregard any visual impact.  These proposed turbines would be just beyond 8 miles from the Appalachian Trail on East Baldpate. AT hikers know it has become pretty much a given that along Maine's 280 miles, almost every open view above 2000 feet is befouled by these giant spinning machines, all of them 8 miles or more away, yet very much in your face, both here and everywhere. The AT has always been considered the holy grail for thru hikers. As they trudge north for months they hear about and anticipate crossing from New Hampshire into the grand finale, the most rugged, most difficult, most remote, most pristine, most rewarding section between Georgia and Katahdin. If we keep up this madness the Maine experience is going to become known as a walk through a junkyard. 

Comment by Marshall Rosenthal on December 7, 2018 at 12:56pm

Maine has sold it's soul to the wind power developers. Funeral services have been canceled.

Comment by Penny Gray on December 7, 2018 at 12:51pm

It would be quite revealing to take the exact same sequence of photos today.  Before and after.

Comment by Art Brigades on December 7, 2018 at 12:51pm

Somebody should submit this post to the DEP as their public comment for RoxWind

Comment by Brad Blake on February 24, 2011 at 11:08pm
Freemont and my friends from all over the River Valley area, you KNOW I will be there for you!  Ready with photos and ready to help make our case against the destruction of our beloved mountains.  I will be there for the good old fashioned Maine supper, too!  Bless you all for the great effort you are making.  We will hit them hard with facts and passion!
Comment by alice mckay barnett on February 24, 2011 at 2:11pm
alright freemont
Comment by freemont tibbetts on February 24, 2011 at 1:33pm

      Brad      As I looked at these Pic"s you took from the the top of Whitecap Mountain it sure would be nice Brad if you would come to Dixfield Maine Thursday,  March 10, 6-8 pm to the PUBLIC - DEP- Department of Environmental Protection meeting. Sponsored by RVAAW  Facebook      River Valley Alliance Against Wind,    Roxbury, Rumford, Mexico, Carthage, Dixfield, Canton, Peru. The RVAAW will be serving a meal from 4-6 pm. Maine Entree; Homemade Vegetable meat spaghetti sause . Baked casseroles. Homemade breads. salads, meat balls. So don"t worry about supper that night. Now as being an OLD  WIND  WARRIOR against putting these ( 450 feet tall Industrial Wind Turbines ) up in this Great State of Maine. I would be proud  to stand with a WIND  WARRIOR like you when you show your Pic"s of my neck of the woods in this GREAT STATE OF MAINE .

Freemont Tibbetts 37, Bruce Tibbetts Dr, Dixfield Maine.


Comment by Karen Bessey Pease on February 24, 2011 at 12:50am

Absolutely stunning photos.


And a terrifying future, if something does not change, and soon.


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."


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