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Letter: Solar garden in wetlands would diminish a unique peat bog

To the Editor:

Should a wetland be destroyed for solar energy? This is exactly what is going to happen to the wetland located on southbound Highway 61, between the historic Round Barn Farm Bed and Breakfast and Flower Valley Road/County Road 21. This so-called solar garden is one of four going up in Goodhue County but will be the first of its kind to be constructed in a wetland.

This project is being proposed by landowner Howard Stenerson, Ameresco and GreenMark Solar. It will be 28 acres, row after row of panels sitting 9 feet high, 5 power substations and surrounded by a 6-foot fence to keep out the wildlife. This project will be in place for the next 25 years.

As surrounding property and homeowners, we were first informed April 6, but the project has been in the works for two years. We find it amazing how fast the Goodhue County Board changed ordinances in the past three months to allow such a project in a wetland after only a few meetings, especially considering a board member commented how long it had taken them to come up with the original wetland ordinance.

As this will be the first of its kind to be placed in a wetland, there is nothing to compare it to or any findings to know what the damages could be to the wetland itself and all the established wildlife and their habitat.

Will this wetland be able to support the necessary equipment needed to maintain the solar garden? This includes fire equipment, the equipment to keep the area maintained and mowed, etc.

Over the years, many tractors, skid loaders, horses and cattle have become stuck in the wetland, all needing a tow truck or larger tractor to pull them out. How could anyone expect ground like this to support the previously mentioned equipment for 25 years?

We support solar energy, just not in this unique peat bog wetland. Diminished critical wetland habitats and the plans moving forward so quickly are only a few of our many concerns and why we strongly oppose this project.

Al & Nancy Wulff

Dave & Jean

Christopherson

Richard & Brenda

Collins

Marcia Krause

Lisa Arends

Red Wing

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