Turbines on Steens: visible from where, exactly?

Posted on 07. Feb, 2010 by crowley in Blog

The Steens are an amazing formation, with the most spectacular areas preserved as Wilderness by Congress in the year 2000. Some 170,000 acres of Wilderness enshrine the “High Steens” and the spectacular gorges to the west and south.

The Steens Act also explicitly preserved private property rights. Our projects are planned for private property on the northern slopes of Steens Mountain, not in the wilderness, not on public land.

Most of the project will not be visible from the commonly-accessed places the hardy souls who drive up Steens Mountain go. The “high Steens” mostly block views from the wilderness of the private lands where the turbines will be located. Not completely. Some turbines will be visible from Frenchglenn (about 15 miles away).

Frenchglen looking at West Ridge Wind Project

… or from Kiger Gorge viewpoint, also in the distance looking at the East Ridge project.

Looking at East Ridge from Kiger Gorge Overlook

… and even from the Steens Overlook.

Looking at Echanis from the East Rim Overlook

View a map with viewpoint locations and additional photos.

What impact the turbines will have on some views is in the eye of the beholder. This issue is being carefully considered in the ongoing Environmental Impact Study being conducted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for an easement across BLM lands outside the Steens Mountain wilderness or other restricted areas.

Early editions of the Sunday February 7th Oregonian showed an iconic photo of the Steens Mountain Wilderness (the High Steens, shown from the east) with the caption: “Picture a hundred turbines here.” But there will be NO turbines in the area the photo showed, NO turbines will be visible from the place that photo was taken and there will be NO turbines in the wilderness or any public lands.

Thankfully, the Oregonian agreed to correct the error and run a photo that more accurately reflects the project area.

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