POMEROY — Beginning this fall, hunters will have access to some of the land that makes up Phase I of the Lower Snake River Wind Facility in Garfield County. The project, located west of here, was completed and began producing power earlier this year.
All of the land containing wind turbines is privately owned and leased to Puget Sound Energy, which owns and operates the wind farm. PSE has established its recreational access program in conjunction with landowners.
According to Anne Walsh, PSE’s Senior Environmental/Communications Coordinator, the level of access varies depending on the wishes of individual landowners. However, the program is coordinated by PSE, and is similar to the access program that has been in place for several years at PSE’s Hopkins Ridge wind facility in Columbia County.
“The program manages access to the land,” said Walsh. “All hunting regulations must be strictly followed.” Walsh points out that, besides deer, elk and bird hunting, access can be for other recreational purposes, including bird watching and hiking.
Some landowners allow public access with access permits, while others require written permission from the landowner in addition to access permits. Still others allow access only by invitation or no access at all. The permit comes with a detailed map identifying the levels of access available.
Walsh also points out that, in addition to state hunting regulations, PSE’s access program imposes strict rules for use of wind farm land. These include restricted zones around wind turbines and no vehicles or pack animals, except on state and county roads.
Access permits for the Lower Snake River wind farm are available only at Deadman Creek Outfitters, which is on Lower Deadman Road, about 2 miles east of State Route 127 near the Central Ferry Bridge.
Besides the Lower Snake River access program, PSE also manages the recreational access program for its Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility and PacifiCorps Energy’s Marengo wind projects in Columbia County. Permits for that program are available at The Last Resort KOA campground, on Tucannon Road.
Phase I of the Lower Snake River project includes 149 turbines and covers 21,610 acres. A new maintenance and operations building was built near Pomeroy, and new substation was built by the Bonneville Power Administration near Central Ferry, where power from the turbines is transferred to the BPA transmission line.
The map and complete rules for PSE’s recreational access program are available by going to pse.com and then following links to “Southeast Washington” and “Lower Snake River Wind”. More information is also available by calling PSE’s Dayton office at 509-382-2043.