Preservation Magazine's article "Location, Location, Location" by Carlos Harrison in the July/Aug 2011 issue provides a thoughtful discussion about the the tensions between historic preservation and energy projects. Much of the article describes a variety of projects where that tension played out when siting wind turbines and solar arrays on land with significant historic resources (e.g., native american burial areas and Civil War battlefields). It's an important tension to parse as it plays out on the larger scales mentioned in the article as well as on smaller scales such as a solar array on the roof of an historic church. In my opinion, given the gravity of this issue for our global sustainability, the most positive development reported in this article is that the Department of the Interior is actively approaching the issue by identifying solar development zones - areas of land that present few or no environmental, historical, or cultural issues.
"You're not always going to be able to avoid every resource conflict," says BLM energy team leader Ray Brady. But the development zones, covering some 670,000 square miles, could smooth out a lot of that. . .
This represents a huge turnaround, according to Greg Seymour, a professional archaeologist, National Trust advisor, and self-described advocate for smart renewable energy. "The tide is turning," he says. "Government agencies are talking about doing the right thing from the beginning. And the reason is simple: Because preservationists and conservationists are getting past the ubiquitous statements of 'no' to renewable development. Instead, we are now saying 'yes - but how can we do it better? How can we do it right from the get-go?'"