Impact on Birds
Paul Cryan was surprised and curious. Cryan had been studying bats since 1990, but only in 2003 did he learn that bats were being killed at wind energy farms. Cryan wanted to know why the bats, whose visual and echolocation abilities allow them to find and catch flying insects at night and avoid obstacles in the dark, run into or otherwise are killed by rotating turbine blades. Why would bats be around wind turbines in the first place? And which species were most at risk?
Marty has been studying the life cycle of the timber rattlesnake for 25 years. He regularly visits several dens that have been in existence on the Allegheny Front for thousands of years -- to check on the emergence of snakes in the spring. Marty had been concerned about the possible disruption of the snake dens by the construction of the Ned-Power Industrial Wind Turbines, but he was assured that the dens, located in rock piles, with crevasses going into the earth, would not be disturbed.
When Marty returned to his study site this Spring, this is what he found: "It is finished. There is nothing left to save.
A regional conservation group is pointing out where birds and wind farms might not mix.
A Playa Lakes Joint Venture mapping project shows the few remaining acres of habitat for the lesser prairie chicken and where playa lakes can draw large numbers of migrating birds.
"There has been a lot of interest from the wind industry, local and state conservation groups and state agencies," said Megan McLachlan, a geographic-information system analyst for the group. "We've gotten a lot of phone calls the last couple of months asking us to share the data. There's a lot of people working on the issue."
Scientists are increasingly concerned about the number of birds killed by running into power lines and wind turbines, said Al Manville, a senior wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but there are reports of success in preventing such incidents - at least in the case of the power lines.
More lines and turbines are planned in coming years, which could put several species of birds at risk, Manville said.
"We've got to address our carbon footprint and deal with climate change," he said, "but we want to make sure, in the process, we don't create new problems."
Renomar will continue operation of the wind farms of Arriel (Vilafranca) and Folch II (Castellfort) wind farms, with 43 wind turbines, despite a closure order on the Environment, "until a final decision." The company behind the wind turbines has appealed arguing the closure order "does not conform to law nor to reality." The May 30 order demanded the stay of the two wind parks in the Wind Zone 3 of the Plan de la Comunidad Valenciana, due to the high mortality of vultures recorded. The two parks have a Declaration of Environmental Impact (DIA), which adopted its own conselleria.
The company insists it has complied with all environmental measures that have been demanded including "painting the blades of wind turbines with zebra" stripes as well as conducting several studies on the impact of birds prior to the installation of the windmills ".
As wind power gears up in Montana, the effects of large-scale wind projects on wildlife remain a concern: Birds may be in the clear, but bats are running into trouble.
Turbine-related fatalities at Judith Gap Wind Energy Center near Harlowton were 1,206 bats and 406 birds, according to a 2007 preliminary study prepared by TRC Solutions' Laramie, Wyo. office.
Roger Schoumacher, a biologist and consultant for TRC, said the bat fatality count is higher than what generally occurs in the West.
A new debate has popped up between members of city government and the school board: Birds.
Where they fly, to be more precise.
And while members from each group have presented clear answers to the question, experts say it's not so well defined.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has sent a letter to to the developers of three wind farms in upstate New York strongly urging they consider other locations for their proposed projects. Biologists for the agency are concerned that the wind farms will further threaten imperiled bat populations suffering from an unprecedented die-off.
One of the wind energy developers, Iberdrola Renewables has decided to hold off on moving forward with the Horse Creek project until the impacts of white nose syndrome on bat populations are better understood. But developers of the other two projects have yet to make similar moves.
Laury A. Zicari, deputy supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the service sent letters to all three northern Jefferson County wind developers "strongly urging them to look at other places."
But, she said, the service isn't near the point of saying the developer couldn't install the project.
"Studies are needed to know the impacts," Ms. Zicari said. "We've provided comments on the proposal to date."
As part of the state environmental quality review and the federal permitting process, studies are done on the potential impacts of any development. As part of necessary permits, state and federal agencies may add requirements for lessening or paying for those impacts.
A federal court judge said Tuesday he needs time to sort through a complicated legal challenge brought by the King Ranch and several environmental groups that want to stop a massive wind farm near the South Texas Gulf Coast.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will have to decide if a mid-1990s federal Coastal Zone Management Act requires the state to conduct public hearings before a wind farm can be approved - if it affects private property and if the environmental groups have a right to sue. ...Lawyers for the wind farm developers said wind farms are not like electric utilities, which are subject to regulation.
Diane Winn doesn't dispute the need for clean, renewable energy -- the kind provided by wind turbines and hydroelectric dams.
But Winn and Marc Payne, her partner at Avian Haven Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, are all about saving injured or abandoned wild birds.
Wind turbines provide clean energy, but birds often die when they fly into turbines, and the noise the machines make can disrupt bird and human alike.
For those reasons, Winn and Payne say they would close their North Palermo Road facility if Beaver Ridge Wind, an affiliate of Competitive Energy Service, builds three electricity-generating wind turbines on nearby Beaver Ridge.
"No one argues with the basic fact that turbines kill birds," Winn said. "The only issue is how many are killed, and whether those numbers impact species populations."
Eleven citizen and environmental groups in West Virginia and Maryland have filed a 60-day notice about their intent to sue a wind power project.
They say the huge turbines from the NedPower Mount Storm project would kill endangered bats and squirrels near the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.
The groups also will sue corporate owners Dominion Resources and Shell Wind Energy for violating the Endangered Species Act, according to Judy Rodd, director of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, based in Charleston. ...Landowners who live near the project also have filed a nuisance suit against NedPower citing concerns about their health and safety, as well as reductions in their property values.
The Wildlife Society (TWS) today released their position statement on wind energy, "Impacts of Wind Energy Facilities on Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat." This position statement is based on TWS' award-winning technical review of the same name. ..."We have found that the magnitude of impacts from wind energy development on wildlife, particularly migratory birds and bats, is not articulated consistently to wildlife managers, decision makers or the public," stated Michael Hutchins, PhD, executive director of TWS. "This lack of consistency hinders progress toward developing energy solutions that do not adversely impact wildlife."
An Amherst area resident is continuing his fight to stop a proposed wind farm on the marsh near the town.
Jim Milner, who lives on the John Black Road, is preparing a submission to the project environmental assessment claiming that its existence threatens the future of the John Lusby Marsh as a wildlife habitat.
"Wildlife is the property of the Crown so it is the duty of the province to protect wildlife, not sell to the lowest proponent bidder," Milner said in his submission.
A public inquiry into plans to build a 53-turbine wind farm close to a prehistoric site on the Isle of Lewis is to open in Stornoway. ...Mr Oppenheim had originally hoped to build 130 turbines on the Eishken Estate, but agreed to reduce this to 53 following objections from RSPB Scotland over the possible impact on birds of prey in the area such as golden eagles.
The fate of basic industries across the Intermountain West -- grazing, mining, energy -- soon could be at least partially tied to that of a bird about the size of a chicken.
The federal government is under a judge's order to reconsider an earlier decision against listing the sage grouse as endangered, and wildlife biologists are scouring the species' customary mating grounds to see how many are left.
The species was seen as recently as 2004 over an area as large as California and Texas combined, but its habitat used to be close to twice that and research has shown that many types of human activity continue to harm it. ...''It will affect everything we do and know (as) a Western state, everything from livestock grazing to mining to development of sage brush habitat, wind energy,'' said Ken Mayer, director of the Nevada wildlife department.
''I don't think we have ever been in this position before.''
As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gets ready to re-examine whether the greater sage grouse needs federal protection, Espinosa and other state wildlife biologists across the West are frantically looking for the bird and the traditional mating grounds known as leks where they have lived for centuries _ or, increasingly, where they used to live. ..."It has been quite simply amazing the amount of habitat we have lost in just the last two years, particularly in the northeast part of the state," said Espinosa of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. ...whether the federal government concludes the grouse needs protection is "a huge decision."
"It will affect everything we do and know (as) a Western state, everything from livestock grazing to mining to development of sage brush habitat, wind energy, transmission lines," he said.
Then came onto the Whisky Dick came the 9,100-acre Wild Horse facility, owned by Puget Sound Energy, 127 wind turbines ...Some feared they might end the area's sage grouse future.
And now that a grouse and a nest have been found there?
"I think it's still too early to know," said Mike Schroeder, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife upland bird research biologist considered the state's foremost expert on sage grouse.
"One, it's just one nest. I've had sage grouse nest in wheat fields where there was absolutely zero chance of success. You have birds that do strange things. ..."There are issues -- the blades killing birds, the blades killing bats," said Andy Stepniewski, author of "The Birds of Yakima County" and program chair of the Yakima Valley Audubon. "The bigger issue is the footprint, the habitat fragmentation. The footprint of each one is a lot bigger than one can imagine, because of the size of the machine, the size of the road; these are enormous trucks that bring these huge turbines in there.
"The habitat is significantly impacted.
Following a study of the movement of birds at a proposed wind farm site, the City of Summerside has reduced the number of turbines planned and changed their shoreline location. ...Two of the four turbines would go on the shoreline of Malpeque Bay, just east of Slemon Park. The site is recognized under an international conservation treaty signed in 1971, known as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Bluewater officials showed off the company's million-dollar investment today, chartering a vessel that will head out to sea this week.
The vessel will start a 75-day study of bird activity in the area 11.7 miles off Rehoboth Beach, where the company's wind farm would be built. The studies will help determine the possible impact of 150 turbines on avian life. ...Delmarva has contended it doesn't need the power from the wind farm, and that a combination of transmission and conservation can ensure the area's electricity future. The company says offshore wind technology would result in higher rates for its customers.
Delmarva also says it can satisfy state renewable power purchase rules by buying less expensive onshore wind power