The initial list of conservation projects getting a boost from a $2.5 million conservation fund from SunEdison is very impressive. Funding will go to some great projects providing fish passage, public access and recreation, and habitat conservation. The contribution was part of a settlement between SunEdison and Friends of Maine Mountains which agreed to withdraw its court appeal of SunEdison’s Bingham Wind project in Somerset County.
Considering that the FMM appeal was very unlikely to succeed, the group’s achievement with this settlement ought to be widely applauded. Unfortunately, the Friends group got roasted by other wind power opponents for accepting the agreement. You just can’t please some of these folks.
Rand Stowell, FMM’s founder, explained the settlement well, noting that, “FMM is committed to preserving Maine’s unique natural resources, particularly its prized mountains. Working with SunEdison on this agreement has allowed us to advance those efforts and fund important conservation projects in the State.”
Kurt Adams, SunEdison’s senior vice president and a guy I have known and admired for many years, explained, “We have deep roots in Maine, many of us live here and we value the state as a special place that is worthy of protection.” Kurt said SunEdison’s folks “are excited” to be working with conservation and environmental groups “to preserve the state’s open spaces so that they can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
The first $1.5 million will go to a number of Maine conservation and environmental groups: The Trust for Public Land, Appalachian Mountain Club, Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, Forest Society of Maine, Atlantic Salmon Federation, and Mahoosuc Land Trust.
Here’s the impressive list of projects that will receive funding.
Redington Forest, Redington TWP $200,000
Lone Mountain, Mt. Abram TWP $100,000
Perham Stream $120,000
Cold Stream Forest, The Forks $120,000
Bald Mountain Pond, Bald Mountain Pond TWP $200,000
Habitat and Resource Conservation on AMC Lands $100,000
Creating Public Recreational Access on the Medawisla/Roach Ponds Conservation Lands $125,000
Securing Access to Conservation Lands $100,000
Redington Forest Project $110,000
Gulf Hagas – Whitecap $50,000
High Peaks Initiative $15,000
Community Hike Program $10,000
Blackstone Brook Fish Passage $50,000
Gulf Hagas – Pleasant River Project $150,000
Mahoosuc Land Trust Project
Ellis River/Whitecap Project $50,000
In addition to all of these great projects, SunEdison will contribute $250,000 to research wind turbine bat deterrent technology. The grant will go to Bat Conservation International, which is conducting research on the brown bat species that has been devastated by white-nose syndrome. Brown bats were listed as endangered in our state during the 2015 legislative session.
More conservation awards from the $2.5 million fund are expected to occur in 2017.