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Protect Minidoka from Proposed Lava Ridge Wind Farm

Updated April 2023:

ACTION ALERT! Deadline Extended

Submit comments to the BLM by April 20

The Bureau of Land Management is accepting comments on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Lava Ridge Wind Project. Information about what to write is included in the resources section below. You can submit your comments online here. Please email a copy to info@minidoka.org.

Resources

When you are ready to submit your comments, here are some concerns about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that you could write about:

  • Fails to adequately protect the significance of the land surrounding Minidoka NHS as a place of reflection and healing for the survivors who were unconstitutionally incarcerated, their descendants, and all who visit this International Site of Conscience.
  • Inappropriately identifies Minidoka NHS as for “Tourists and Recreationists.”
  • Fails to recognize the importance of the cultural landscape and preserve the historic nature of the land, including the integrity of the site, feeling and association of historic events, and its immersive educational experience.
  • Fails to protect the viewshed, “Moderate” degree of visual change fails to protect the integrity of Minidoka NHS.

We support Alternative A–No Action, which would mean the Lava Ridge project would not happen at this site.

You can read more in the short slideshow that was presented at the webinar here.

Here is an example letter from a previous wind farm project.

For a deeper dive, you can Read the Lava Ridge Draft Environmental Impact Statement online.

We hope you find these resources helpful. It’s going to take all of us together to make our voices heard! Email Rich Iwasaki (Rich@jamo.org) or Chisao Hata (Chisao@jamo.org) if you have further questions or need assistance in composing your comments.

Background Information

Originally published August, 2022.

The Minidoka National Historic Site in the high desert of south-central Idaho is significant to the history of many Japanese Americans in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest–it was where many of their ancestors (or they themselves) were forcibly removed after Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942. Part of the National Park Service, the site serves multiple purposes for Japanese Americans and the general public–as a sacred site of reflection and remembrance and as an educational tool for learning about racism, civil liberties, the US during WWII, and the history of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Magic Valley Energy has proposed the Lava Ridge Wind Project, a 400-unit wind turbine field on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property adjacent to the Minidoka National Historic Site. The project would include 400 wind towers, over a dozen of which would be located on the historic footprint of the Minidoka incarceration camp. For visitors to the site, this would effectively create a wall of towers and spinning blades that would dominate 114 degrees of the park’s 360 degree view.

Friends of Minidoka, which engages in and supports education, research, and historic preservation of the WWII incarceration experience, has led the effort to oppose the impact of the Lava Ridge Wind Project on Minidoka. We stand with Friends of Minidoka to object to the project as it is currently proposed because it will significantly and permanently alter the landscape and atmosphere of the site.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Lava Ridge Wind Farm Project in January 2023. This lengthy document details five proposed alternatives to address the various conflicts and objections to the project, which would dominate much of the view from the Minidoka Historic Site.

Public Comment Period and Recent Advocacy

The BLM is accepting public comment on the draft EIS related to how well the various alternatives address conflicts, their analysis of the project’s impacts, and any new information that would improve understanding of the impacts and that should be included in the final Environmental Impact Statement.

The Japanese American Museum of Oregon has partnered with Friends of Minidoka and Preservation Idaho to work together to inform our communities about Lava Ridge, the BLM process, and what we can do to oppose the project.

For those who were able to attend the webinar with JAMO, Friends of Minidoka, and Preservation Idaho, thank you so much for taking the time to learn about this issue.

On March 1, the BLM hosted an open house in Portland. We had a good turnout from our community, including survivors of Minidoka and their descendants. Highlights of the event included:

  • Media coverage from KGW and AsAm News.
  • Community members spoke directly with BLM staff to ask questions and voice concerns.
  • Japanese American Museum of Oregon representatives were on hand to support our community and help people understand the comment process.
  • Several community members submitted their oral and written comments.

One good piece of news is that the deadline for submitting comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been extended. You now have until April 20th to submit your comments.

What has happened so far?

August 2021: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced its Notice of Intent for Lava Ridge.

September 2021: The BLM hosted 2 virtual meetings to explain the project and take questions. They also accepted public comment on the project through September 20. More than 1,000 people submitted comments.

June 2022: The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project is still in progress. The BLM currently anticipates the Notice of Availability for the Draft EIS will be published in the Fall of 2022.

August 2022: The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Friends of Minidoka urged people to contact the BLM and request that they suspend their review of the project. Instead, they would like to see a public process for revising the Monument Resource Management Plan, which would strengthen protections for monuments such as Minidoka and change the way they are managed.

January 2023: The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is released by the BLM. The BLM is accepting comments on this draft until March 21. Friends of Minidoka, the Japanese America Museum of Oregon, and other partners are planning a webinar on how to submit a comment in February.

February 2023: Friends of Minidoka, the Japanese American Museum of Oregon, and other partners will host a webinar on February 15 to give more information on how to properly submit a comment on the draft EIS. This is the final opportunity to give public input on the project.

February and March 2023: The BLM will host several in-person information and comment collection sessions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

March 29, 2023: In-person comment-writing event in Portland

April 20, 2023: Deadline for comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement

You can read more about the project here:

Call to Action Flyer

Lava Ridge Faces Criticism, Idaho News 6

Magic Valley wind project moves forward, BLM considers alternatives, Boise State Public Radio

Discover America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2022

Lava Ridge Wind Project Factsheet

Quotes from Survivors and Descendants of Minidoka Incarceration