April 14, 2021

Speaking for the Trees, Once More

Rehoboth Ramblings

Posted

Last November I wrote about the proposed plan to turn Camp Buxton on Pond Street into an industrial solar farm, quoting from “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss: “I speak for the trees.” Now I am speaking for the trees once more, as are a group of neighbors whose homes are across the street from this picturesque parcel of land that sits on a rise between Wilmarth Bridge Road, Pond Street, and the Palmer River. The camp itself is on the rustic side, designed for tent camping and sitting around the campfire, though there are a couple of shelters in a large open field in the middle of the camp.

After enjoying living across the street from these woods, some of us for many years now, home-owners would be facing a large field of solar panels instead. I especially feel sickened at the proposed destruction of all those trees, not to mention having to watch/listen to bulldozers and chainsaws, should this happen.

Though what I write here is, as always, solely my own opinion, I encourage everyone, not just those who live in the immediate vicinity of Camp Buxton, to find out more about this controversy. I am writing this a few days before the planning board meeting on March 31, so I am not able to report here on what was decided then.

You can find out much more about these solar farm concerns, sign a petition, or donate to this cause on the website www.SaveRehoboth.org or on their Facebook page. Or you can email save.rehoboth.ma@gmail.com.

The organizers write:  “This group supports conservation and preservation efforts, and seeks to engage the community into action against clearcutting and unwanted developments, whether residential subdivisions, inappropriate solar developments, or other. We wish to safeguard the town from over-development while encouraging reasonable, responsible growth and development.”

Camp Buxton has long been owned by the Boy Scouts of Rhode Island who are seeking a 20-year lease of the property to a solar power company called Rehoboth Renewables. To install solar panels as proposed, 14 acres of woods would have to be clear-cut. Commercial grade herbicide would be used on the existing ground cover as well.

While neighbors are naturally worried about the negative impact this facility would have on their property values, there are numerous other questions as well. People are especially concerned about the worst case scenario in which all the these trees would be clear-cut to have solar panels installed, only to have the firm responsible for the site go bankrupt. This happened with the solar farm on Summer Street, just a mile or so away, though most of that site was situated in an open field to start with.

So then we would be stuck with all that ugly deforestation and yet no good would come from it. I can certainly see the need for solar energy, but as I wrote last fall, chopping down trees to make way for solar power seems like a poor trade-off. Forests are ecosystems of their own, made up of trees and other plants, animals and soil.

SaveRehoboth.org refers readers to zoning guidelines for solar arrays from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, which include this information: “The DOER strongly discourages locations that result in significant loss of land and natural resources, including farm and forest land, and encourages rooftop siting, as well as locations in industrial and commercial districts, or on vacant, disturbed land. Significant tree cutting is problematic because of the important water management, cooling and climate benefits that trees provide.”

Happy Little Bluebirds
To conclude with a note about a happier subject, Hank Coleman reports that a number of people have expressed interest in the Rehoboth Bluebird Society, which I mentioned previously. If you want to know more about attracting bluebirds to your own yard, you can email hjcoleman@comcast.net or pttarter@gmail.com, or call Hank at 508-243-0244.

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