Dear Residents of Tri-Cities, WA,
In light of the ongoing debate about the Scout Wind Farm Project, I think it is time you are introduced to your neighboring community in the Horse Heaven Hills.
Yes, you heard that right. There are people that live in this dry, barren, and seemingly isolated plateau which borders the south of Tri-Cities. You see, these hills are more than an afternoon escape for your bike rides and hikes. This is more than a place where you take scenic Sunday drives. This is more than the home of beautiful sunsets featuring Mt. Adams, Rainier, and Hood. This is more than the scenic view from your backyard.
And to another group of Tri-Cities residents: this is more than a place for you to dump trash, unwanted dogs, or dead livestock when you think nobody is looking. This is more than a place for your high school kids to take their girlfriends on Friday night. This is more than “the home of the Baby Graves” or “the place where the dust comes from”. This is more than a place for you to drive your Jeep and tear up a freshly seeded field. This is more than a place for you to go shooting and start wildfires in July. This is more than the place where the ‘hillbillies’ live.
This is the home of a family-based community, which is very old. My family has been here since 1946. Many others were original homesteaders here, who took a chance breaking out virgin farm ground from open prairie which had never been farmed before. We are proud to be dry land wheat farmers living in some of the driest, non-irrigated farmland in the world. This is the home of people whose neighbors live miles away, not city blocks. This is the home of people who get excited when they see rain clouds for the first time in weeks and are often disappointed when the clouds change their path at the last minute, leaving our crops dry and thirsty. This is the home of people who do without modern luxuries like wells or city water service, sewage service, or reliable high speed Internet. This is the home of people who started a volunteer fire department because they never again wanted to watch their friend burn up in a tractor trying to save his crop from wildfire. This is the home of people who face frequent hardships such as drought, blizzards, dust storms, poor crop prices, constantly rising input costs, and increasing restrictions on how we make a living. This is the home of people who watch housing developments pop up on land which used to be the farm of their grandfather’s best friend. This is the home of people who patch up their 20-year-old harvester, their 75-year-old plow, and their 60-year-old planter year after year, because the new technology coming out just isn’t designed for such a small niche market. This is a community of survivors, forgotten by the world and ever shrinking, but not going anywhere anytime soon. And lately we are feeling rather betrayed by our neighbors in Tri-Cities.
You see, we have recently been given a great opportunity. An opportunity to diversify our farm operation, increase our land value, and raise our bottom line. An opportunity to insulate ourselves from unstable crop markets. An opportunity to maybe update some of our farm equipment and hopefully enter the 21st century one of these days. An opportunity to not be quite so reliant on rain and financial aid to send our kids to college. An opportunity that will maybe let my father retire someday, instead of working himself to an early death like his father and grandfather before him. The name of this opportunity is the Scout Energy Windfarm.
Now, I’m not here to argue about how much energy these turbines will produce, where they will send it, or how they will store it. I’m not going to tell you I think they look pretty. But I will say this: shame on you for pretending to care about the beauty of an area that, up until now, you have treated as your personal playground, your dumpster, a shortcut to Oregon, or the future site of more houses. Shame on you for condemning construction on a ridge while hoping to someday build a mansion on the very same hill slope. Shame on you for being this upset about something that, at the very most, would be a slight change to your backyard view. Because this same thing would be an absolute life changing blessing to your neighboring community.
In closing, please don’t feel this was written to bash the Tri-Cities. The Tri-Cities is a great community, which the Horse Heaven community benefits from, as well. Every once in a while, when we get a wild hair, we do get off our tractors and come to town. And guess where we go to buy groceries and clothing? Guess whose restaurants and small businesses we love to support? Yes, that’s right; we deeply care for, respect, and support the Tri-Cities community. We are just asking for the same in return. May we all grow and thrive together.
If you support renewable energy efforts, property owner rights, or believe in supporting small family farms, please write a letter to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) voicing your support for the Scout Clean Energy Windfarm before the March 30th hearing by emailing email@example.com.
Chris Wiley, representing your neighboring tribe of friendly hillfolk