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Environmentalists criticize Bowdoin’s plan for solar array

December 15, 2020 GMT

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — Maine environmentalists have criticized Bowdoin College’s planned solar panel expansion at Brunswick Landing that could harm a coastal grassland.

The expansion will add an 18,000-panel solar array across 20 acres to the 2,150-panel array built in 2014 and be built on the Little Bluestem-Blueberry Sandplain Grassland, Bangor Daily News reported.

The site is one of four that were identified by the Maine Natural Areas Program to be “critically imperiled” due to its rarity.

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According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the low-lying grassy habitat is home to two species of “special concern,” the prairie warbler and eastern towhee. A third species of “special concern,” the black and white warbler, have been documented using the forest edges of the college’s 115-acre parcel at Brunswick Landing.

In addition to concerns surrounding native wildlife, Kristen Puryear, an ecologist with the Maine Natural Areas Program, said in a letter to Brunswick town officials that the grassland must be maintained with prescribed burns.

Bowdoin and its project partner, Sol Systems, said that a controlled burn will clear the site and the panels would be installed to avoid the grasses.