Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

Tag Archives: Wind Farm

Why “Harry” Believes Judge Baskin Will Remand the Cat Creek Energy Project Back to P & Z

Taken on Peak 5915 looking over the Castle Rocks and Wood Creek area of Elmore County, Idaho

 

Many Elmore County residents believe a District Court judge should remand the entire Cat Creek Energy project approval back to the County Planning and Zoning Commission (P & Z) for new and honest hearings. Our entire “Petition for Judicial Review” document is filled with legal, moral and ethical reason why we believe the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) erred in approving this ill-conceived project. A project covering 3,730 acres in the Elmore County, Idaho backcountry.

Hunting, Fishing, Wildlife and Scenic Beauty is at Stake

We realize how time-consuming attending the P & Z Commission meetings, hearing and deliberations in 2016 became. No one really believed Elmore County would every approve the Cat Creek Energy project. And those people were right. The P & Z Commission denied the permits Cat Creek Energy needed to begin the process of getting state and federal approval for their mega-energy project.

But then in 2017, the Elmore County Commissioners overruled their own P & Z Commission and handed that Gooding-based corporation the keys to our very own backcountry, the Anderson Ranch Reservoir and South Fork of the Boise River fishery, and will threaten our elk, deer and pronghorn populations.

Local Mountain Home, Idaho, resident Harry Taggart, “aka Skip,” testified in front of our county officials and offered the following facts …

Reference: Pages 10 and 11 of the Petition for Judicial Review document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Harry Taggart, a resident of Mountain Home spoke and informed the Commissioners that he hunts and fishes throughout the South Fork of the Boise River basin, that he opposes the Project “because it would destroy the scenic beauty and environmental diversity of the area known as Wood Creek, which is right at the very doorstep of our splendid Boise and Sawtooth National Forests.”

Mr. Taggart also informed the Commissioners that he has “read and understood the Elmore County Comprehensive Plan, as well as Title 6, Chapter 14 of the Elmore County zoning and development ordinance defining areas of critical concern, which the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission is lawfully charged with protecting” and that he had read the minutes of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to deliberate Cat Creek Energy’s applications and he “agree[s] with the Commissions unanimous rejection of multiple Cat Creek Energy permit applications because they fall short of compliance with a minimum of 12 different Comprehensive Plan standards.

Harry Was Right Back Then and is Still Right

  • Destroying the scenic beauty of our backcounty with 500-foot tall wind turbines will not benefit the residents of Elmore County.

  • In approving the Cat Creek Energy Project, Commissioners Wes Wootan, Bud Corbus, and Al Hofer made a ruling in direct conflict with the county’s own Comprehensive Plan.

You can download and review the entire Petition for Judicial Review at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

Take Action

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

In addition, many of our elected officials from city mayor and on up the line to U.S. Senators could use some feedback from you. If you need their names or point of contact, we’ve created a list at https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

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Will Local Tourism Dollars go Elsewhere Because of Cat Creek Energy?

Our local tourism industry will suffer because of the Cat Creek Energy project.

On February 10, 2017, the Elmore County Commissioner voted to approve five conditional use permits (CUPs) for the Cat Creek Energy mega-project. That approval went against the ruling of the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission who denied those same five permits to the Gooding-based company on July 13, 2016.

That unfortunate reversal quite possibly will damage our fledgling Elmore County tourism industry just when the city and others are looking to pour time and money into local tourism.

How Will Cat Creek Energy Damage Tourism?

During a public hearing on November 17, 2016, local resident, Nancy Thompson provided the following testimony:

Reference: Page 13 of the Petition for Judicial Review document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

Among several others who provided negative comments about the Project, Nancy Thompson, a resident of Mountain Home and the owner of a vacation home in the Featherville area, testified that she sits on the travel tourism committee, and is manager of the visitor’s center in Mountain Home.

She told the Commissioners that they get over 8,000 visitors every year, many from other countries, and they come to Idaho to see what the nature and the meaning of Idaho is about. Tourism brings about $7 million a year into Elmore County. They are sent on a scenic drive that is called the “Boise, Sun Valley Historic Loop Tour” that goes through Lowman, Idaho City, Stanley, Hailey, Fairfield, across the Camas Prairie, into Mountain Home and back to Boise.

They return to the center and comment on what a beautiful drive it is. She added: “I can’t imagine that I’m going to get the same kind of comments from these visitors when they come back to tell us what they’ve done when they cross up over the top of Cat Creek Summit and see wind turbines and solar panels. Ugly is as ugly does. You can’t make them beautiful. You can’t make them blend in.”

And under that glaring fact, we believe a judge will see that the county commissioner erred in approving the previously denied CUPs. We also believe the judge will remand the entire project back to the Director of the P&Z Commission.

You can download the entire 64 page “S Bar Ranch Petition for Judicial Review” document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. You should contact your elected officials. Begin with contacting County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

See https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

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Elmore County let Cat Creek Submit a new Master Site Plan in Nov. 2016?

Why would the County Commissions allow Cat Creek Energy to submit a new master site plan for the 3,730 acre mega-energy project in Elmore County’s backcountry without proper public notice?

Submitting a new master site plan is not permissible unless it is properly and legally “noticed.” That includes published legal notices in the local newspaper and the notifying residents that own property within one mile of the project area. The S Bar Ranch and other ranches would be within one mile of some of those huge 500-foot tall wind turbines if the county allows them to be built.

Those proposed wind turbines would also be located in a known and documented elk, deer and pronghorn migration corridor.

Reference: Pages 10 and 11 of the Petition for Judicial Review document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Snippets from the document

On August 26, 2016, the Developer submitted an appeal from the P&Z Order to the Board of County Commissioners of Elmore County (the “Board”) and Supplement Appeal on October 25, 2016. The Board heard the matter in public hearings on November 16, 2016 and 17, 2016, and December 16, 2016

At the hearing on November 16, 2016, the Developer presented evidence that had not previously been presented, which materially changed the applications for the CUPs, including a new master site plan. Although Petitioner was included in the mailing for the Notice of Public Hearing on November 16, this new evidence was not properly noticed as part of the hearing and Petitioner did not have a proper opportunity to respond to this new evidence.

For example, in violation of I.C. § 676512(b), the Notice of Appeal Hearing for the public hearings on November 16 and 17, 2016, contains no reference to the construction of wind turbines that will be up to 500’ tall and be located within one mile of Petitioner’s property.

As a consequence, Petitioner was not alerted to the fact the Ranch would be adversely affected by the construction of wind towers within one mile of the Ranch and the adjoining area.

During the November 16, 2016 appeal hearing, the Commissioners discussed the issue of noise from the wind mills with Cat Creek representative, James Carkulis.
question, Mr. Carkulis stated: “Noise from equipment. Yes, undoubtedly. Something moves there is going to be noise. The fact of the matter is though that where the wind turbines is [sp] located, there are no residences around. It is almost a moot point. It is just not going to be a concern.

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

See https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

 

 

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A Judge Could Review the County Commissioner’s Decision of Approve the Cat Creek Project

The long, complex and contentious Cat Creek Energy project approval process started in 2016 and bit and pieces are still being worked out at the local level. While the Cat Creek Energy project still has some state and federal obstacles to overcome before they can officially ruin the Elmore County backcountry the S Bar Ranch isn’t sitting idly by.

On March 7, 2019, the owner of the S Bar Ranch filed a petition with the Fourth District Court asking a judge to review the decisions that Commissioner’s Bud Corbus, Al Hofer and Wes Wootan made regarding the nearly 4,000 acre Cat Creek Energy mega-project. The 64-page petition can be downloaded at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/ but we realize some resident don’t have the time to review such an extensive legal document, no matter how well it was written (it’s mostly plain language and tells a troubling story).

Just Some “Bit and Pieces” of the Document

Below you’ll find some actual snippets from the legal document to whet your appetite and give you a reason to spend a few hours reading about how entrenched the “good 0ld boy” network has become in our local government. So, here goes.

Page 9 / P & Z Deny all Conditional Use Permits in Aug 2016
On June 15, 2016, the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission (“P&Z Commission”) met to consider the applications. The P&Z Commission heard testimony from the Developer, representatives of the Developer, and others individuals who supported the Project, some individuals who were neutral and several individuals who opposed the Project. On July 13, 2016, the Elmore P&Z Commission conducted deliberations of the applications for the CUPs. On August 17, 2016, the P&Z Commission unanimously, on a 60 vote with one member absent, voted to deny the applications.

 

Page 10 / The Project Does not Comply With County Ordinance
The Commission made several findings that the proposed project conflicts with the Comprehensive Plan with regard to Private Property Rights Objectives, Land Use Objectives, Scenic Area Objectives, Hazardous Area Objectives, andAreas of Critical Concern Objectives.
The Commission further found that the Project failed to comply with the applicable Zoning Ordinances, including Title 6, and the applicable State and Federal regulations. The Commission concluded that the Applications do not comply with the required findings set forth in Section 6277 of the Zoning Ordinances
.

 

Page 30 / Conflicts of Interest
The Board of Commissioners have a conflict of interest that violates I.C. § 67-6506 and other law, and prevents them from serving as a neutral quasi-judicial body in this contested matter that is pending before the Board. The conflict arises from the fact that the County is
requiring, as a condition for issuance of CUP-2015-04 and the other CUPs, that the Developer agree to divert and deliver water from Anderson Ranch Dam to the County using the Developer’s infrastructure. In other words, the County has a vested beneficial interest in approving the granting of hydro CUP and the other CUPs, which prevents the Board from serving as a neutral decision maker as required by law.

A further conflict of interest is created by the fact that Commissioner Hofer purportedly stepped away from his duties as a Commissioner and acted as a negotiator representing the County in negotiations with the Cat Creek representatives to reach agreement on the terms of the Development Agreement. Those ex parte communications were not disclosed to the Petitioner or the public. The Development Agreement, negotiated by Commissioner Hofer, was then submitted to Commissioner Hofers fellow Commissioners for their approval. Knowing that the
terms of the Development Agreement submitted to Commissioners Wooten and Corbus had been negotiated and approved by Commissioner Hofer, there was no way that Commissioners Wooten and Corbuscould remain neutral and perform their duties as neutral decision makers regarding the terms of the Development Agreement.

 

Page 52 / The Board’s Decisions Violate Due Process Because Two of Its Members Had Ex Parte Communications with Cat Creek
During the December 22, 2017, public hearing, Commissioner
Wootan acknowledged the Commissioners had been communicating among themselves regarding the project and decided they wanted to make the project work. In response to comments from a representative of Cat
Creek that they would work with the Board to put a deal together 
that works for Cat Creek and the County, CommissionerWootan stated: Were already to that point. Weve already communicated among ourselves that were workable, that we want to make their project work,
and we want to make our intent happen.Obviously, the Board had decided to approve the project, regardless of the publics input in the decision, in violation of due process.

Download the 64-page document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

What is Next and What We Expect – 16 May 2019

The next court hearing will be on May 16, 2019, at 3 p.m. in Boise, Idaho before Judge Nancy Baskin.  That is when S Bar Ranch will present oral arguments in support of our case and ask the judge to rule that the actions of the County are invalid and to remand it back to the Director of the Elmore County P&Z Commission.  

We believe Judge Baskin will take the decision under advisement and render a written decision as early as July 2019.

 

Take Action Before it is too Late

There are many actions you can take that will send a clear message to the Elmore County Commissioners, the State of Idaho and even our federal government. 

Contact the Elmore County Commissioners and tell them you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project. 

Contact your State Representative and State Senator and tell them to find a way to stop the Cat Creek Energy project before it ruins our Idaho backcounty, hunting grounds and fisheries. 

Contact Senator’s Crapo, Senator Risch, Congressman Simpson, and Congressman Fulcher.

We’ve put together a list of contact information for all the elected official mentioned above at https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/ 

 

Share, Share and Share Some More

There are many people in and around Elmore County that still do not know about the Cat Creek Energy project and how badly it will affect wildlife, fishing, water quality and hunting. Please share this information with your friends, family, and co-workers.

 

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Wake Turbulence and Cat Creek Energy Wind Farm

There are many different groups that are opposed to part or all of the Cat Creek Energy mega project. A new group of professionals and/or hobbyist spoke up about the proposed wind farm on Camas Prairie. The forty, 500+ foot tall wind turbines that the developers want to put up greatly concern some local general aviation folks.

What is General Aviation?

THE SIMPLE ANSWER: General aviation is all civilian flying except scheduled passenger airline service. AS SIMPLE AS THAT? Yes. And as complex as that. General aviation includes flying as diverse as overnight package delivery and a weekend visit back home; as different as emergency medical evacuation and inspection trips to remote construction sites; as complimentary as aerial application to keep crops healthy and airborne law enforcement to keep the peace. General aviation benefits the community in so many ways, it’s hard to cover them all. (https://www.aopa.org/-/media/files/aopa/home/advocacy/what_ga.pdf)

 

Why General Aviation Pilots Might be Opposed to the Cat Creek Wind Turbines?

  1. The first and most obvious problem with the Cat Creek Energy wind turbine would be the in-flight obstruction danger they present. Just think of one of those huge turbine blades reaching up to swat a Cessna Skyhawk out of the skies as it flies from Arco, Idaho to St. Luke’s Hospital in Mountain Home.
  2. The wake turbulence created by wind turbines would also present some challenges to general aviation also. And with Cat Creek Energy planning to erect wind turbines as tall as 5-story building on the crest of Cat Creek Summit, that turbulence wouldn’t be welcome and should be considered a flying hazard.

 

“The taller the obstacle, the larger the wind shade. If the turbine is closer to the obstacle than five times the obstacle height, or if the obstacle is taller than half the hub height, the results will be more uncertain, because they will depend on the exact geometry of the obstacle. (http://www.inforse.org/europe/dieret/Wind/wind.html)

 

Take Action

If you oppose any part of the Cat Creek Energy project, your elected officials need to hear about your concerns. And because many residents living in the area have little or no idea what could happen if the project is allowed to move forward, we are asking you to help spread the word.

Contact Elmore County Commissioners at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/ or by mail at …

BOCC
150 South 4th East
Mountain Home, ID 83647

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Will Highway 20 Become the Next Wind Turbine Corridor?

Is this the future of Highway 20? We hope not.

The segment of Highway 20 that Roger Brooks, an international tourism expert called “one of the best drives in Idaho” could easily become the next wind turbine corridor in the state.

That segment of highway Rogers Brooks was referring to, runs from just north of Mountain Home to Camas Prairie and into our mountain communities of Pine and Featherville.

Cat Creek Energy already has plans to put up forty, 500+ foot tall wind turbines along Cat Creek Summit and partially down the Pine-Featherville Road. We also know that Cat Creek is having troubles getting federal approval for the Pumped Storage Hydroelectric project on the bluffs above and interconnected with Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The developers have stated many times in the past that all three portions of their mega-energy project need to be approved to make it financially viable. If Cat Creek cannot get state or federal approval for the hydroelectric portion, they will likely have to make up for the megawatt shortage by putting up additional wind turbines along Highway 20.

Wind Power Friendly California Rebels Against New Turbines

According to an article on the Daily Wire website (https://www.dailywire.com/news/44146/b-b-climate-change-california-county-kills-plans-paul-bois), the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted to ban the construction of large solar and wind farms on more than 1 million acres of private land.

Local residents say that solar and wind farms destroy areas like Dagget, Joshua Tree and Lucerne Valley by turning the landscape into eyesores. Sara Fairchild, a resident of Pioneertown, has been working to have California Highway 247 turned into a designated state scenic highway to boost the local economy; she says that would all fall apart in the face of a mega solar farm.”

The local San Bernardino government listened to residents when they asked for a moratorium on new wind and solar farms in the rural parts of the county. Basically, the people said why grow wind and solar farms when we can grow a more profitable tourism industry that won’t destroy the scenery.

What they actually said was basically the same thing opponents to the Cat Creek Energy project are saying.

These vast open areas are precious for their natural, historical and recreational qualities. But they are fragile, and no amount of mitigation can counter the damage that industrial-scale renewable energy projects would cause,” Fairchild told the supervisors. “Once destroyed, these landscapes can never be brought back.”

The big difference between the California mega-energy project locations and the planned Cat Creek Energy location is our Elmore County, Idaho location contains verified wildlife migration corridors, the “threatened” bull trout and no need for the energy Cat Creek says they want to generate.

Spread the Word / Tell the Elected Official We Don’t Want CCE

The Elmore County Commissioners tentatively approved the Cat Creek Energy project even after their own planning and zoning commission said “no way.”

If you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project, take action today.

Contact Elmore County Commissioners Corbus, Wootan and Hofer at:

https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

  • Bud Corbus – Phone: (208) 587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208)599-1294
  • Wes Wootan – Phone: (208) 587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208)599-3131
  • Al Hofer – Phone: (208)587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208) 599-1620

and/or

Mail Address:

BOCC
150 South 4th East
Mountain Home, ID 83647

 

In addition, you might consider sharing this post with friends, family, and co-workers.

 

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Are Hunters Opposed to the Cat Creek Energy Project?

The Cat Creek area provides habitat for an assortment of native wildlife. The project area lies within a major migration corridor for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn moving from high elevation summer habitats to low elevation winter range and back. While the exact pathways and magnitude of the migration has not been quantified, several thousand animals likely use this corridor on an annual basis. Data from elk and mule deer radio-marked during winter in 2015 and 2016 confirmed, considerable seasonal movements through the project area. Energy development has the potential to disrupt these movements.~ The Feb. 1, 2016, Idaho Fish & Game response to the Cat Creek Energy project

Considering the Cat Creek Energy project will consist of wind, solar and hydroelectric “Energy Development,” and that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IF&G) said the project could disrupt elk and deer migration, hunters and all who enjoy the Elmore County backcountry should be opposed to it.

 

Elk and Deer Herds are Back

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game just releases their 2018 big game harvest report. Things have recently been looking good for elk and deer hunters with harvest numbers remaining above or near 2017 numbers.

Hunters took more mule deer and fewer white-tailed deer in 2018 compared to 2017, while the elk harvest was similar between the two years — dropping by less than 2 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The 2018 elk harvest was about 15.4 percent above the 10-year average. White-tailed deer harvest dipped in 2018 compared to 2017, but gains in the mule deer harvest – largely from spike and two-point bucks – brought the overall deer harvest for 2018 above that of 2017.

 

Migration Corridor

The planned Cat Creek Energy project would consist of a 590 acre solar plant and a 1,140 acre wind farm in the Cat Creek Summit area, plus a 2,000 acre reservoir on Little Camas Prairie. IF&G said “the project area lies within a major migration corridor for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn moving from high elevation summer habitats to low elevation winter range and back. While the exact pathways and magnitude of the migration has not been quantified, several thousand animals likely use this corridor on an annual basis.”

Will the migration patterns be disrupted?

 

So, Yes … hunters and backcountry enthusiast should research how this mega-energy project will adversely affect hunting and wildlife in GMU’s 43, 44 and 45 over the lifetime of this ill-conceived project.

Many hunters and local residents have already voiced their concerns and publicly stated their opposition to the Cat Creek Energy project.

How do you stand on this issue?

 

References

 

Please help us get the word out about how bad this project will be for the residents of Elmore County. There are much better locations to site this project where it won’t ruin the viewshed and our hunting heritage.

Share this post with your friends, family, and co-workers.

 

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