Local group fights to preserve farm land - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Local group fights to preserve farm land

FREMONT, OH (Toledo News Now) -

A local environmental group is taking on big business, in the name of mother nature.

 Black Swamp Conservancy, based in Perrysburg, is against a proposed power line project by FirstEnergy, the parent company of Toledo Edison.

FirstEnergy is considering running a 138,000 volt transmission line approximately 30 miles from the company's proposed new Hayes Substation in Erie County to the existing West Fremont Substation in Sandusky County.

While no plans have been finalized, one proposal includes running the power line across Peninsular Farms in Fremont, a 474-acre property along the Sandusky River.

Peninsular Farms, formerly known as the Whittaker Reserve, was the property of white settlers James and Elizabeth Whittaker, who were captured by Native Americans in 1781. The land was later given to them. It has since become known for its open fields, wetlands, and diverse animal population.

Rob Krain, Director of the Black Swamp Conservancy, argues if the land is divided by power lines, it would affect the agricultural value of the property and put animal habitats at risk.

"Peninsula Farms represents everything that makes Northwest Ohio special," said Krain. "We are hoping that FirstEnergy will decide this is not an appropriate place to run power lines."

On its website, Black Swamp Conservancy is urging people to contact FirstEnergy to speak out against the plan, stating, "Yes, we need high-voltage power transmission lines; but this routing is an exceptional case."

Patti Michel, Senior Communications Representative with FirstEnergy, says several factors will be considered before a site is determined, including public comments collected during two meetings in 2012. Details can be found on FirstEnergy's website. The company alerts local, state and federal officials of each public information meeting.

"This project will help ensure electrical service reliability for customers in the area," said Michel. "Ultimately as sites within a study area are evaluated, the route with the least amount of impacts to the environment and property owners is submitted in a filing."

Pending approval from by the Ohio Power Siting Board, FirstEnergy is expected to choose a path and location for the project by summer, and construction would start in 2017.

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