Friends of Minidoka voices concerns over Lava Ridge Wind Project

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 5:49 PM MST
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HUNT, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Changes could be on the horizon for the Lava Ridge Wind Project. One group is voicing concerns about the impact the 400 wind turbines could have on their historic site.

The Friends of Minidoka, a group that represents Minidoka National Historic site in Jerome County, are pleading with LS Power to modify the location of their wind project which currently lands in part, on the relocation camp’s footprint.

“Minidoka really is sacred ground for those who were incarcerated there,” said Robyn Achilles of Friends of Minidoka. “To them, it really is a desecration of the site.”

The Minidoka Relocation Camp held over 13,000 incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War Two, something the Friends of Minidoka say should never be forgotten.

That memory is in jeopardy of being altered by the sight of 400 wind turbines that stand as tall as 740 feet and can be seen from over 10 miles away.

“We are very concerned,” said Friends of Minidoka’s Dan Sakura. “Particularly because the Lava Ridge is the second fight we’ve had with LS Power in the last 12 years.”

Dan Sakura says the moment he arrives here at the Minidoka Relocation Camp, he feels connected to his ancestors who spent time within these grounds.

He and his organization believe that adding a wind turbine field just a few miles north of this location will distort that connectedness and distract from the events that unfolded here.

“If you go to Minidoka now, you can get a sense of what it was like in the 1940s: isolated and with views of distant mountains,” Sakura said. “That is the power of the park.”

LS Power, who are developing the Lava Ridge Wind Project, says they are aware of these concerns.

“Certainly want to discuss with them any ideas that we come up with,” said Lava Ridge Wind Project Manager Luke Papez. “We are really in the middle of that conversation right now.”

As discussions continue, the changes that may result are unclear, but both groups believe that collaboration is the answer to the problem.

“We actually support wind energy; we support renewable energy,” Sakura said.

“I’m optimistic that we are going to find a solution here that both preserves the history of that site and also allows for our project to move forward.”

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