Here is a second article Doug and I wrote recently on the topic of a high-voltage power line and how it would affect the Driftless Area environment. This article appeared in Isthmus.
A Chicago environmental legal advocacy group is scrutinizing the Driftless Area west of Madison and the damage that could be done there with construction of a high-voltage American Transmission Company power line.
The ATC project would carry electricity from Dubuque County, Iowa, to Middleton along 500 steel towers, each one 10 to 15 stories tall.
The Environmental Law and Policy Center has led a number of successful advocacy campaigns designed to protect natural resources throughout the Midwest. In 2003, the group led the effort to get a court order that halted accelerated logging in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, safeguarding 22,000 acres of forestland.
One of the tactics that makes the center successful is its Science Advisory Council. Susan Mudd, the group’s senior policy advocate, says, “Each scientist contributes pro bono advice and connects us with other experts and research that relates to our work.”
One of these experts is Don Waller, a UW-Madison professor of botany and environmental studies. “This Driftless Area Project and the transmission corridor is a new approach,” Waller says. “Instead of just focusing on one issue, we are looking at the range of threats now and in the future for a particular region and how those threats can be addressed in an effective and collaborative way.”
American Transmission Company
Transmission lines proposed for the Driftless area are 10 to 15 stories tall.
Waller has studied how development and forest fragmentation diminishes plant diversity. “Similar work has been done on birds,” he says. “Everything clearly indicates that when extensive edges are created, such as when you install a power line corridor, you reduce habitat and diminish local diversity within the remaining patches of habitat.”