July 24, 2013STARK — The new route rolled out last month for the Northern Pass Transmission project includes some 4,000 feet on an existing right-of-way (ROW) in Stark, according to Katie Stuart, District Ranger in the Androscoggin Ranger District, headquartered on Glen Road (Route 16) in Gorham.
"I've studied the map links (online in the NP journal) and the proposed route on Maps 48 and 49 include the town of Stark," Stuart wrote in a Friday e-mail exchange.
"It appears that a little over 4,000 feet goes through the WMNF's Kilkenny Unit on an existing right-of-way," she wrote.
"I also checked in with Tiffany Benna (at WMNF's headquarters in Campton), who is on the Forest team that would be addressing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and she indicated that the Forest doesn't have an application that reflects the new route location."
Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray confirmed that "a short section of the existing right of way does pass through a portion of the WMNF within Stark, just to the east of Lost Nation."
This means that WMNF Supervisor Tom Wagner would not only have to make a determination on whether to issue a special use permit, consistent with the Forest Plan, to cross the Forest (WMNF) on an existing right-of-way in the towns of Easton, Lincoln, and Woodstock in the Pemigewasset Ranger District, but — should this new section be incorporated into a new application — also in the town of Stark, located in the Androscoggin Ranger District.
The Pemi ROW on the WMNF has been front-and-center in all discussions of the proposed 1,200-megawatt high-voltage direct-current line since it was first announced in 2010.
The proposed use of the upper leg of the so-called Coös Loop to bring power from Wagner-managed forestlands in Dummer through Stark to Groveton, however, was only announced on June 27 at a press conference held in Hooksett.