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Cons outweigh the pros of solar proposal
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To the Editor: We have lived north of Great Bend two and a half years after having lived in several cities throughout Kansas. We chose to retire here for close proximity to our children and for the beauty of the area. We love the farms and pasture land, the rolling hills, the wildlife we see from our backyard, and of course Cheyenne Bottoms. We are amateur bird watchers and have seen 78 species of birds from our backyard, flying overhead, or out at the Bottoms.

We love to drive the backroads of Barton County and surrounding areas on Sunday afternoons. We can’t imagine having the beauty of this area ruined by a solar farm. We have tried to be open minded because solar farms can be beneficial; but, why near housing areas, a wetland with millions of birds that depend upon it for nesting or energy during their migration, or along a national scenic byway between two internationally recognized wetlands?

There was a gorgeous picture taken by Dan Witt in last Saturday’s Great Bend Tribune of a pair of whooping cranes, an endangered species, at the Bottoms. How fortunate we are to have them visit us!

What happens when one of them crashes into a solar panel? Who will be responsible for the fine for killing an endangered species? The solar company, the landowner, the county for allowing it? Who will be able to replace the life of the Whooping Crane? There are so many less populated areas of Kansas and other states where solar farms could go that don’t involve a flyway or wetland or even people’s homes. We realize they want to be near the major transmission lines to sell the power to the highest bidder for reasons of profit, but they will be paying out millions to property owners for their leases using our tax dollars.

There are so many more cons than pros to this proposal. We have followed the articles in the newspaper and read the proposed zoning maps and Articles on the Barton County website. We still don’t feel very informed. The multiple maps are confusing, the language rather vague as to where the solar panels will go, the future boundary lines may change, and there seems to be no limit as to how many can be built.

When their usefulness is over, there is no plan to dispose of the panels known to us. That should be very troubling to us and future generations. The foreign company putting in the solar farm seems to be changing their minds frequently about what they are doing.

As for the city of Great Bend, it has always been a beautiful site to look up to the hills east of town (one of the sites for the solar farm) as you come in on Highway 56. We have spotted two bald eagles and a rare golden eagle on those hills as we drove the scenic byway. Do we want the many visitors along the Byway, the Wetlands Education Center, the Bottoms, and Great Bend to remember us for our solar panels?

We are so blessed to call this beautiful place home.

I hope it is not too late to change what appears to be a done deal. Many people in Barton County know nothing about this if they do not read the newspaper.

So we encourage those that do know, to spread the word. Maybe there is still some hope to stop this.

Bill and Melody Athey Great Bend