How many massive energy projects are too many for one rural community to absorb?

“They want to put these all out here, because we’re throwaway country people.” – Howard Cook

By Mia Myklebust and Miriam Raftery

February 16, 2012 (Jacumba) – Walking along the shores of Lake Jacumba, it’s clear that Howard Cook has big dreams for his community.  Chairman of the Lake Restoration Committee, he has wrested a pledge from the Audubon Society to restore the once-dry lake.

“We want to have fishing, boating, and recreation,” he says.  Cook is working with others who dream of “making this another Taos—art, wildlife, hiking, Indians and birds.”

But there’s trouble on the horizon.  Multiple industrial-scale wind and solar farms soon stand to surround this tiny town, jeopardizing its most cherished natural treasures. Sites include publicly owned recreation lands, notably a spectacular scenic gorge known to locals as “our Grand Canyon,” Cook points out.

Jacumba is a proverbial canary in the coal mine—a warning of what other publicly-owned preserves and rural communities across America may soon face.