Wind energy is helping families like mine and many others to stay on our land. In the 50 years I've owned land in Umatilla County, I've seen my friends and neighbors grow peas, wheat, cattle and sheep - always with an eye toward using the land and natural resources we've been blessed with in a responsible way. Wind energy is no different. We can develop it while being good stewards of the land.

I know some people don't like the way wind turbines look, but a new group - the Blue Mountain Alliance - is going too far. They are advocating a new government regulation that would create a new layer of land use restrictions for private property owners in Umatilla County. I'm very concerned that the groups proposed state land use planning Goal 5 regulation is a threat to all kinds of farming practices and more. Even the size and shape of our homes would be decided by these new regulations. We already have enough bureaucracy. We don't need another layer restricting our private property rights, driving down our property values and limiting our ability to make a living.

The Goal 5 regulation would affect thousands of landowners in the area. It would even restrict my ability to repair or move the cabin that has been on my property for 50 years. We don't need more restrictions that take away private property rights with no compensation.

And the regulation requires a study that we can't afford, especially in this economy. The study will cost tens of thousands of dollars that could be going to real needs in the county.

Wind energy is a blessing. It is already contributing to Umatilla County's property tax base, helping fund schools and public safety. And it's helping keep our communities strong. Let's work to make sure it continues to be done in a responsible way, instead of over reacting with new regulations that make it even harder to farm and ranch.

And, if they are successful in getting this Goal 5 overlay in place, it could be expanded to the rest of Umatilla County.

Richard Stewart

Weston Mountain landowner

Walla Walla

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