I recently received a letter from Lester Kenway, the president of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, urging me to donate to MATC to help cover the legal fees that it is incurring in its opposition to the Highland Wind Project in Roxbury.

I am a member of MATC because I worked for the Maine Conservation Corps during the summer of 2009, renovating the Appalachian Trail in western Maine not far from the site of the proposed wind farm.

MATC’s efforts to oppose the wind farm are hypocritical and don’t represent my views on the subject. For one, why is it that a wilderness gets to be called “pristine” when there are cellphone towers, hiking trails and ski resorts in the same area?

I recall one day working on Baldpate Mountain, about an hour away from the proposed site in Roxbury. I cut down about 30 trees and countless numbers of small shrubs in order to clear a new hiking trail. Another day, on another mountain in western Maine, our crew operated a chain saw to fell a large tree that was used to stabilize the trail.

Were these practices in line with Mr. Kenway’s description of an undisturbed landscape? Hardly. Even during times when we were using chain saws to get the trail built, we were not berated by hikers for destroying their serene nature walk. On the contrary, many of them thanked us.

The conservation movement cannot proclaim certain areas to be untrodden wilderness while conveniently excluding their own practices from this designation. Maine has the opportunity to be at the forefront of the renewable energy boom. We shouldn’t let an elitist and hypocritical argument stall progress in this area.

Emma Burnett

Wind power actually causes more carbon emissions, it’s unreliable and intermittent, it will make individual bills rise, and taxpayers will be funding the projects with subsidies. It will destroy landscapes, watersheds, wildlife, property values and cause us to lose recreational and tourism-based jobs.

I hate to give away this secret, but the Highland Mountain area is a unique spot — rock faces and formations; Sandy Stream with swirling pools of water and waterfalls; fabulous hunting, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, rock climbing and woodland.

This area cannot be sacrificed so a few can make their pot of gold.

Nora West
New Portland 

In response to your recent editorial, “Nothing to cheer about in wind power setback,” I am one of those who oppose the development of the Highland Wind LLC project.

You imply we don’t oppose it because of the Roaring Brook mayfly or the northern bog lemming. Do you know what they even look like? Some of us do. Do I love them individually? No, I do not. But they are part of the life of these mountains and whenever one species dies off, others are impacted.

I know these mountains as well as you know the back of your own hand. I know the multitude of species that live here and love it all.

Your two remaining questions: Does Maine have room for land-based wind energy, and if so, where?

You state that the governor’s wind task force met a variety of environmental and market criteria. Well, of course it did because the task force was made up of wind development supporters.

The task force should have been made up of Land Use Regulation Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, along with an independent health specialist, geologist, hydrologist and a few other science-based professionals that were not from the wind industry.

As far as a reliable regulatory process to get a building permit, give me a break. The wind industry is allowed to do its work in a manner that would land a logging company in court and jail.

Where should they develop wind-generating facilities? I would say as close to the area of need as possible. In this case, that would be southern New England. Why destroy our tourism, rural economies and the largest remaining wild place left east of the Mississippi, with its unique wildlife?

David Miller
Lexington Township 

Cost of foreign intervention weighs heavily on America 

It’s time to review some facts about Afghanistan and Iraq, I believe.

We currently have about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and 47,000 in Iraq. Afghanistan’s budget is about $10 billion per month and Iraq’s is about $5 billion.

Since 2001, Afghanistan has cost our nation about $401 billion, and since January 2009 about $272 billion. In Iraq, we’ve spent about $788 billion since 2003 and $272 billion since January 2009.

These are only the “direct” costs, as other costs include Veterans Affairs services, which could easily triple the direct costs over time. In human terms, we’ve had 1,560 soldiers killed in Afghanistan, about 30 to 50 per month, and almost 500 wounded every month. We’ve had 11,191 U.S. troops wounded in Afghanistan since 2001.

The Center for American Progress has proposed that the United States draw down its forces to 40,000 in Afghanistan by the end of 2012, which is a reduction of 60,000 by the 2012 elections.

By 2014, CAP proposed another reduction of 25,000 troops, bringing our level to 15,000 by the end of 2014, which is the next Afghanistan presidential election.

Our nation has so many other urgent financial needs, including the reduction of the annual budget deficit.

Many people, including myself, believe that our actions in Afghanistan are producing more insurgents with every drone we explode, with every civilian we kill or maim, and with every act of violence destroying the lives, communities and homes of these beleaguered people.

What do you think? Let your representatives in Washington know your thoughts.

Dan Rynberg

The United States has suffered a lot of unnecessary losses in the time we’ve spent in the Middle East, and none of our actions have been appreciated by the locals there or by the rest of the world. We are perceived as bullies who are only in search of sources of additional oil.

While oil is part of the reason why we are involved in the Middle East, it appears not to be the reason in Libya. Libya provides little oil to the United States. We appear to be there because their are people suffering at the hands of a brutal dictator. Does that justify us becoming involved with the conflict, however? Not entirely.

What we are trying to do now is win the trust of the Muslim world in northern Africa by helping out those being oppressed. This is a good cause, but naively we are imposing our Western ideology on them and they will end up resenting us again.

What we fail to understand is that while the people we are trying to help live in places of constant conflict, very few of them want anything to do with what we consider a normal life. Conflict has become part of their culture and no matter what we do, we will never take it out of them. No amount of “hand holding” will make the people of the Middle East or wherever adopt our democratic system.

We are dealing with societies that have changed very little in 2,000 years. It’s hard knowing that innocent people are being oppressed or killed at the hands of a dictator or warlord, but no matter what we do, we are unlikely to change these societies to mirror our own. We should focus more on the issues within our own borders.

Mike Pearce
South Portland