Letter: Solar Bylaw Committee Must Study The Risks Of Forest Clearance In Solar Farm Construction

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

The following letter was sent to the Amherst Solar Bylaw Committee on June 22, 2022

I was glad to hear Town Manager Paul Bockleman stress how important it is for this committee to be open, even seek, public input on this pressing and controversial subject. I am hereby expressing my perspective on it:

It is urgent that we do this correctly. Obviously, the world is in a perilous situation, and we don’t have time to waste. But haste makes waste, and I think it’s hasty to build solar by cutting forests. That ignores the true cost of eliminating what forests do for the planet. Ignoring true costs is what got us into this horrible plight.

I am sorry to see people that agree that solar is needed get into the usual nastiness, arguing about the how, even if the why is obvious. This solar committee should not make hasty decisions, or be steered by the industry of cutting down forests for solar, or the land-owners who support solar, but also profit from solar in their private forests.

In Western Massacusetts we have evidence that solar in forests can go badly, and not be repaired effectively. Please take a look at the risks you take by prematurely supporting cutting down forests. You do not have that right, even if it’s legal.

But you, committee members, are not the large industrial solar companies or the land-owners. You are the people who volunteered to be charged with finding the right answer.

Thank you, and good luck in your work on this vital exploration.

Ira Bryck

Ira Bryck has lived in Amherst since 1993, ran the Family Business Center for 25 years, hosted the “Western Mass. Business Show” on WHMP for seven years, now coaches business leaders, and is a big fan of Amherst’s downtown.

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