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Letter: Every wetland acre must be replaced

What is a wetland delineation? What has that got to do with the Wildwood Community Solar Garden? And why should you care?

A wetland delineation is a diagram, a rough-draft description of the whole wetland involved.

"Determining the amount of impact that a solar garden will have on a wetland is difficult and hasn't been addressed at this project's scale in the state to date," according to the Technical Evaluation Panel report dated March 15.

What this means is that there has never been a solar garden placed in a wetland in Minnesota. Bottom line, with everyone involved in evaluating this project, no one knows what could happen. Anything can be made to look good on paper.

The wetland delineation tells the solar companies where they should stay away from in the wetland. They design/place the solar panels to go in between the places designated so they don't have to pay for replacing destroyed wetland.

All wetlands destroyed have to be replaced. In the two minutes I was allowed to speak to the County Board March 21, I said, "I believe that Mr. Stenerson should have to buy replacement credits for the whole wetland, 43.1 acres."

A credit is something purchased from an existing wetland to replace what you destroy. Complicated. The application said the credits would be bought from a Freeborn County wetland.

I also said I thought this project would fail and that is the reason I felt Howard Stenerson needs to purchase the whole 43.1 acres of replacement credits. He is trying to get by with purchasing fewer than 3 acres. These replacement credits can cost thousands of dollars.

This is a peat wetland, highly flammable. (The potential for catching fire is greater with the proposed project.) If that happened, the wetland would have to burn itself out and that could take days, weeks and years.

Why should you care? The Goodhue County Board is prepared to let this project proceed in spite of all the potential, unknown risks to all county residents. What other projects will they pass with high risks to county residents?

Beth Robbins Keller

Lake City, former Wildwood Lane resident

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