Massive Wind Project Planned for Steens

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Wind energy is touted as one environmentally responsible way to provide electricity, but what about when those wind turbines are slapped down on the edge of a national bird refuge, the home of a distinct species of wild horse, and across some of the most untouched and dramatic landscapes around?

Controversy is brewing after plans were announced for Columbia Energy Partners to build more than 100 415-foot-tall wind turbines on three sites around the Steens Mountain in Harney County in southeastern Oregon. Check out The Oregonian's story on the project.

While some are championing the deal as a way to help the struggling local economy, others are up in arms about the dangers to the nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The area is also home to the Kiger mustangs, a group of wild horses that are genetically closest to the original Spanish mustangs.

Several Oregon-based groups including the Oregon Natural Desert Association and the Audubon Society of Portland are opposing the plan.

Now, it’s in the hands of the Bureau of Land Management, which still has to approve the transmission line.