Swath of destruction

To the Editor:

In last week’s Islander, Kathy St. Germain’s letter implored those “who complained and pitched a fit about a few trees possibly being cut down for power lines on the Knox and Crooked Road to drive, walk or bike down Route 3 and see the swath that has been cleared for the new power lines … .” It prompted me and my husband to get on our bikes and seek out, as she described it, “a Blue Star Highway destroyed so a handful of people didn’t have to look at a pole in front of their house.”

For several weeks, my husband and I, both sober, non-texting, speed limit-type drivers, have been commuting on and off the Island on Route 3, as we have for years. After reading St. Germain’s letter, we had a fruitless discussion about where this “swath” of destruction might be.

We set out on our bikes Sunday morning determined to find this swath of destruction. We carefully examined the new transmission line project on Route 3 from Salisbury Cove to the northern end of Knox Road, riding slowly along the shoulder in both directions.

I want to share the result of our mission.

There are some of the new taller poles set in place and some poles yet to be set. It appears there are two very short sections, one a rocky ledge and the other near the Red Barn, where we actually saw more than one or two trees cut in the right of way. These two areas involved cutting of a small scattering of trees, none with trunk circumferences larger than a salad plate.

Neither area comes close to Webster’s definition of “swath of destruction.”

My husband and I had to stop our bikes to see these tree cuts. For me, the trash and litter in the highway right of way thrown by people in passing vehicles was more offensive than the tree cuts.

Yes, there are a few individual larger trees cut because of their risky proximity to the power lines. Some of these trees were diseased or dying and needed to come down. It appears that the new poles are placed near where the old poles are, a location more controlled by the Maine Department of Transportation than Emera Maine. It appears that the power line path is largely what it was before. We think this is why neither of us even noticed the cutting as we were driving by.

However, we do understand St. Germain or anyone’s concern about how distressing it is to have industrial and commercial development take precedence over our beautiful island, its treasured properties and pristine environment. It’s certainly important that St. Germain and others voice their concerns through appropriate channels. Otherwise, Mount Desert Island would have been clear cut and carpeted shore to shore with tourist accommodations and amusements.

Thanks to those tireless individuals such as John D. Rockefeller Jr., much of the island has been preserved for the public to enjoy and for nature to thrive.

We would encourage anyone who is concerned about the transmission line project to contact Kendra Overlock or Steve Sloan at Emera Maine, or their consultant, James Brooks. All of them have spent countless hours over a year and a half working with our Bar Harbor community to bring us reliable electricity while accommodating aesthetic and environmental concerns of those who work and live here.

Emera Maine has made it clear that it wants to hear from all ratepayers and residents who have questions.

As a final note, my husband and I live more than three miles from the end of the two alternative routes that Emera Maine considered, and actively met with Emera and our fellow citizens for almost a year. Neither route is anywhere near our backyard, but we concurred with Emera and its Substation and Transmission Line Advisory Committees that many more trees would have had to be cleared on Knox and Crooked Roads than on Route 3. If it had been put along the Crooked Road, the resulting transmission line, because of the proximity of the poles to the roadway, given the smaller right of way and the twisting nature of road, would have been more likely to experience downed lines due to cars hitting poles and trees coming down in storms.

Donna Mae Karlson

Bar Harbor

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