Plymouth: AD Makepeace & Borrego Solar: 160 Tihonet Road: 50-acre strip mine, deforestation for solar
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
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 project. Makepeace never got an earth removal permit required by the Wareham General Bylaws. The Town has failed to take action to address AD Makepeace’s violations and theft of an unknown volume of sand and gravel from the site.
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”. Kane was not telling the truth – the company had plans to build many more solar projects. Since 2014, grabbing state solar subsidies and partnering with Borrego Solar, Makepeace built at least five more solar projects destroying hundreds of acres of forests and mining into the groundwater at some locations.
Charlotte Furnace, Wareham
Farm to Market Road, Wareham
Cranebrook Solar, Cranberry Read, Carver
0 Hammond Street, Carver,
Golden Field Solar, Carver
276 Federal Road, Carver
Swan Holt Bogs (0 Pond Street)Carver
Proposed: solar at 140 Tihonet Road, 150 Tihonet Road and 27 Charge Pond Road, Wankinko Bog area, Carver, Jordan Road and others
At the 160 Tihonet Road, Wareham site, 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”. MEPA ignored the environmental impacts of changing the topography and removing groundwater protection. It blindly 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?
Clearly, 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 from Wareham, 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.
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.”
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 off endangered and rare species to Makepeace CEO Jim Kane.