The Wiyot Tribe speaks regarding the fate of one of its most high prayer sites, at Tsakiyuwit, or what we call today, Bear River Ridge and the Cape Mendocino ecological transect.
We live in one of the most diverse landscapes in North America, in part because it was shaped and tended by Indigenous peoples, making Humboldt County and other parts of California a rich mosaic of vegetation types, which drives diversity and ecological stability. The proposed Terra Gen wind project, which RCEA appears to have blindly endorsed, is the aerial equivalent of damming up the Smith River, and will forever impact not just the spiritual connection of the Wiyot and other individuals, but the biology of this ecological transect. For example, survey efforts for the project found not just an array of artifacts, including Tuluwat barbed projectiles and plant processing tools, but verified the diversity of the area, identifying 81 different vegetation communities, with 38, or roughly 50% being rare or sensitive and even some newly described communities that may likely have ethnobotanical origin. The prairie system on Tsakiyuwit can be seen from outer space as one of the most intact coastal prairies in northwest California, rivaling Bald Hills in Redwood National Park. I would hope that RCEA wouldn’t suggest putting a wind farm on Bald Hills, sacred land to the Yurok, so it’s ok to put one on Tsakiyuwit, out of sight and mind from Eureka and Arcata, in a more rural part of the County with less resources to resist? We could go on and on about the biological and cultural impacts, and inadequate mitigations, not to mention the tons GHG’s that it would be emitted during construction and maintenance and the 10,000 heavy truck trips in geologically unstable soils? And, as Wiyot elder Leona Wilkinson has said to the Terra Gen reps, “This is not your wind to take! This is the birds, the bats, the Earths, the redwood tree’s wind!” A recent study by Harvard revealed the truth that wind turbines really do affect the local mircro-climate and humidity, which may be devastating here, where complex interactions along our edge of the fog belt are critical to summer fog, our local biodiversity, and persistence of the redwoods.
Of equal impact to the wind turbines themselves, is the near 30 mile-long new transmission line corridor, continuing a swath of destruction, over 900 acres of forest to be cleared, along the ecological transect from coastal prairie through redwood, grand fir, Doug fir, and tanoak forests, and finally to the oak woodlands and glades of Bridgeville. What will RCEA ratepayers say when this new transmission line, in very remote timberlands, causes a wildfire that rips either into Pamplin Grove, Grizzly Creek, or Humboldt Redwoods State Park? How much carbon will be at increased risk of release through wildfire? Who will make the decision to de-energize these new lines when catastrophic wildlife conditions exist? RCEA, Terra Gen, Humboldt County? How can we make educated decisions on such matters when we haven’t even seen the Final EIR? As a public trust agency, it is premature to give input or support for such an impactful project prior to the release of the FEIR and the Tribe urges RCEA to reconsider its PPA with Terra Gen and abandon this project which would only contributes to vulnerable centralized grid-based power and more energy consumption. RCEA should be working toward investing in community solar micro-grids, like its project at the Arcata Airport, rather than giving money to a few wealthy corporate elites from out of the area.
Finally, given both the Wiyot Tribe’s endorsement and RCEA’s commitment to developing offshore wind by 2025-2030 with a similar MW project, it is nothing less than criminal and ludicrous to develop Tsakiyuwit, a premier cultural and biodiversity hot spot, and ignore the requests and wisdom of the Wiyot Tribe, who have been here since time immemorial. Impacts from off-shore wind are a fraction of the long-lasting impacts we would see from developing Tsakiyuwit and the surrounding area. We ask the board to please reconsider and revoke its support and backing of the Terra Gen wind project and respect the Tribe’s concerns and suggestions of working toward more truly resilient energy independence for Humboldt County. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Rra’dutwas (with kindness)
Adam N. Canter, Tribal Botanist, GIS, and THPO Cultural Assistant Table Bluff Reservation