NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

July 17, 2013

Why does the proposed solar field have to be a fight?

Viewpoint
Donna Pikul

---- — I read an article, written by Steve Grinley, titled “Solar project threatens bird habitat.” Why is this issue such a fight and why can’t all get along for the best interests of everyone? There are a few things I want to point out.

My husband Gene and I love our field and we certainly appreciate its beauty. I’ve mowed that field for more than 20 years and Gene has since he was a child. We want to preserve the field, as best we can. At the end of the project, the array will be removed and the field will be the same as it is today. What better legacy for our children?

To compare this project to the solar field on Rabbit Road is inflammatory. Our field is about one-third in size. Not one tree would be removed. The grass would barely be upset. The only impact would be the posts that hold the panels, being installed. The bird habitat won’t be disturbed. In fact, the grass will be kept at a minimum 6-inch level. Ink bushes would be placed on the outside of the fence that will remain green year round and shield any view. Considering the field is 800-1,000 feet from the road and the panels are approximately 6 1⁄2 feet above the ground, most people wouldn’t even see it.

The article said Essex County Greenbelt, the Trust for Public Land, the City of Newburyport and the Town of Newbury have worked hard to preserve the Common Pasture. Gene talked to Greenbelt and offered the land for sale. He was told there is no money available to purchase the property. No suggestion has been made, by these organizations, or by The Parker River Clean Water Association, Massachusetts Audubon or Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions to raise funds to purchase it, either. Now it seems instead of paying for the land, these organizations just want to take it! Preserve it by fighting.

Unless birds are stupid, the snipe, the ducks, the other shorebirds, hawks and swallows will still have 56 acres of field to land in, nest in and feed in. If the concern is the panels will be scaring them away, they can fly in front of the mounds and avoid panel sight.

It is important to reduce our carbon footprint for future generations. There is a state program called Massachusetts Green Communities. Currently 110 communities are included in this program, which allows for grants and support for renewable energy. The more important question to ask the Town of Newbury is, why aren’t they involved in the Green Community Program?

We believe global warming is a real concern. Storms are severe. Weather situations are changing. I would expect the people on Plum Island are wondering about the impacts of global warming. If the lack of concern for green energy, as we see in Newbury, continues, we won’t be able to enjoy the birds because there will be no wetlands available for their habitat. The earth is heating up and although we may have experienced one of the wettest Junes on record, the droughts are around the corner. Why not share the space? Good for birds, good for people?

Before people donate to a cause to stop the solar field, everyone better think of how we, as landowners, are having the rights to do with our land, what we want, eliminated. What is happening to us, in that regard, can happen to anyone. Birds are important, carbon footprint is important, global warming is important, but landowner rights is extremely important. If you want to offer support or comments, please call Gene on 603-661-5050 or e-mail us at pikulfarm@yahoo.com. We’d love to hear any opinion.

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Donna Pikul lives in Newbury.