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Pateros-Twisp powerline gains ground

May 15, 2013

A proposed new Methow Valley powerline has gained ground. An appeals court ruling allows the local PUD to condemn state public land for powerline construction through the largest contiguous block of state-owned shrub-steppe habitat in the Methow.

Pateros-Twisp powerline gains ground

Mule deer. Photo: ODFW

A proposed new Methow Valley powerline has gained ground. The Court of Appeals in Spokane ruled May 7 that the local PUD can claim eminent domain to condemn state public land for construction.

The powerline would cut through the largest contiguous block of state-owned shrub-steppe habitat for mule deer in the Methow Valley.

The decision comes after years of opposition, including litigation. Conservation Northwest joined local organizations including People for Alternatives, Conservation & Education, in opposing the powerline. Following the ruling, the state and Conservation Northwest are exploring next options.

Shrub-steppe habitat is scarce just east of the Cascades and important for wildlife travel and mule deer winter range. The powerline will require construction and maintenance of 20 miles of new roads, fragmenting wildlife habitat, degrading range lands, increasing fire risk, eroding soils, and damaging local fisheries.

“It's a big loss for the fish and wildlife that depend on quality habitat in the Methow Valley and the local businesses they support,” said Dave Werntz, science and conservation director for Conservation Northwest.

“If the Okanogan Public Utility District decides to build this powerline, there will be an ugly and unnecessary scar across the lower Valley," he said. "That scar will serve as a continual reminder of the district’s poor judgment and wasteful spending, especially because a route for a new transmission line already exists along the highway.”

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