General

Plymouth: AD Makepeace 50 acre sand mining and solar destroyed endangered species

Large ground mounted solar used as a cover for large sand and gravel mining operation on Priority Habitat at 160 Tihonet Road, Wareham (“Tihonet East” solar)

Mass Wildlife issues “take permit” for 10 rare and endangered species

Endangered Persuis Duskywing Butterfly, Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle may have been extirpated by Makepeace

Persius Dusky Wing, Endangered Species in Massachusetts
Northern Tiger Beetle, Endangered Species in Massachusetts

From 2014 to 2021, AD Makepeace clearcut and strip mined 50 acres of pristine Pine Barrens habitat classified as Priority Habitat. It has now leased the land to Borrego Solar for a large ground mounted solar porject.

History of the project:
In 2014, ADM applied to the Wareham Planning Board for site plan review to install Phase 1 of a 52 acre ground mounted solar project to be built by Borrego Solar. 

Jim Kane wrote to the Planning Board Chair George Barrett this was likely Makepeace’s “last large ground mounted solar project under the existing regulatory system” — which was a spin since of course Makepeace has built more under the “new” regulatory system – taking advantage of the state’s “SMART” solar subsidies at locations such as 0 Hammond Street, Golden Field, 276 Federal Road and Swan Holt Bogs (0 Pond Street) in Carver and is proposing 3 new projects at 140 Tihonet Road, 150 Tihonet Road and 27 Charge Pond Road — about 200 acres of pristine forest will be obliterated and wetlands impacted.

In 2014, Makepeace told the state environmental review office, Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) “The site will be cleared and graded to a level area ranging from approximately 64’ to 68’ above sea level” and MEPA repeated this in its MEPA Certificate. Makepeace’s consultant Beals + Thomas said in the MEPA Environmental Notification Form: it is “anticipated that excavated earth material will be used in the vicinity of the site such that travel via town roads will be avoided.” Where did this actually go? How much was removed?

Who is kidding who? Makepeace trucked the sand and gravel across the Wankinko River into Carver to its Read Custom Soils for commercial sale or sold it directly to haulers.

Makepeace never applied for or obtained an earth removal permit so the volume of earth taken off the site is not known. (Wareham voters have directed the Board of Selectmen to conduct and audit of the volume.)

Makepeace uses back roads through its cranberry lands to transport sand from mining sites to Read, as implied by Beals + Thomas. MEPA ignored the earth removal operation in the environmental review.

Between 2014 and 2018, approximately 22 acres of the 52 acre site were cleared and the first phase of the Borrego solar project installed in approximately 2015.

The 160 Tihonet Road location was once “Priority Mapped Habitat” designated under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. In 2015, Mass Wildlife, which is supposed to protect our wildlife and rare natural plant and animal communities gave Makepeace a permit to kill 10 Pine Barrens species protected by law under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). This included the endangered Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle and Persius Duskywing butterfly.

The MassWildlife issued the permit through its Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP). The permit to kill, or “take” the species is ironically called a “Conservation and Management Permit”. There is supposed to be “mitigation” when this happens but how can a species be conserved and “managed” when large swarths of its habitat is destroyed? What is the cumulative impact of all the deforestation by Makepeace and other solar and sand mining operations in the Pine Barrens?

Here is an excerpt from the 2015 NHESP permit for Makepeace to “take” 10 legally protected species so it could say it was strip mining 50 acres “in compliance with the state endangered species law.”

Oct. 23, 2021 Google Earth Image 160 Tihonet Road, Wareham MA

In a letter to the Wareham Planning Board in 2014, Jim Kane, Makepeace CEO said “This project is the same cookie cutter solar project like Charlotte Furnace and Tihonet West solar in Wareham and Federal Road in Carver.” At these three other sites, solar was preceded by forest clear-cuts, endangered species habitat destruction and extraction and commercial sale of sand and gravel. “Cookie cutter” means environmental destruction and killing of endangered and rare species to Makepeace CEO Jim Kane.