General and Impact on Wildlife
The controversy over the bird started brewing during township meetings months earlier. Some residents disputed eagles are anywhere near the township. Other residents debated wind farms and whether the turbines would harm eagles or other birds.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is wondering the same thing. The commission is set to hire a new employee who would investigate mortality rates in birds and bats caused by wind turbines.
Wind turbines in some areas have caused bat mortality rates to increase, said Tim Conway, the commission's Northeast Region information and education director.
An open house Wednesday by Spanish energy producer Gamesa USA is not exactly the kind of forum Tyrone's mayor had in mind when he asked the company to hold a public meeting on its proposed Ice Mountain wind farm. ...
As it is set up now, with Gamesa representatives talking to people one-on-one, there's a missed opportunity for more people to hear how the company is addressing its critics.
THE number of golden eagles in Scotland has been kept down by new developments that have encroached on their territories.
Forestry plantations have had a much bigger effect on Scotland's iconic bird of prey than previously thought, reducing its food supply by covering open ground and lowering its ability to produce offspring, researchers say.
They now warn that similar effects can be expected from new wind farms if they are allowed to proceed in golden eagle ranges.
Game commission wants to make sure birds won’t be harmed by new energy-producing windmills on the Appalachian ridge.
Looking through 10-power binoculars from the south lookout at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary years ago, I watched a golden eagle soaring past a red-tailed hawk and a red-shouldered hawk.
“Wow,” I wrote in my journal, “golden eagles are BIG.”
Since then I have harbored a long-distance, at least a quarter- mile to a half-mile away, love for golden eagles. Unrequited or not, golden eagles deserve our protection, if not our love.
Eastern golden eagles are a distinct geographic and genetic population, allowing the Pennsylvania Game Commission to list them as “Pennsylvania vulnerable” for conservation purposes.
Their population is remaining stable or rising slightly, with partial evidence being the fall 2006 migration numbers recorded at hawk-watch sites along Appalachian ridges, going from north to south: Bake Oven Knob, 130; Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, 170; Second Mountain, 127; Waggoner’s Gap, 275; Allegheny Front, 222. (For more on the counts, see www.hawkcount.org.)
Golden eagles have ridden the winds that whip across Pennsylvania’s Appalachian ridgetops for centuries, soaring northward to breeding grounds each spring and southward to hunting grounds each fall.
Up until now, the eagles have encountered relatively few obstructions during their migrations across the state. But with energy companies scrambling to erect 400-foot windmills that convert those ridgetop winds into electricity, conservationists fear hundreds of eagles could be killed by a technology widely regarded as environmentally friendly.
‘Pennsylvania’s ridge and valley province plays an important role in the development of wind power and as a migratory corridor for eastern golden eagles,'’ said Dan Brauning, supervisor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wildlife diversity section. ‘’That could mean the future of this small population of eagles hinges on our ability to make responsible and informed decisions concerning the development of wind farms.'’
Wind power is the world’s fastest-growing source of electricity. And with 153 megawatts of wind generation already in place — enough to power about 70,000 homes — Pennsylvania is the top wind power state east of the Mississippi. By 2020, state projections say Pennsylvania could be home to 3,000 megawatts of wind generation, which would require about 2,000 windmills statewide.
The expected onslaught of wind farm development has state wildlife and environmental officials scrambling to develop regulations that ensure damage to birds and other wildlife is kept to a minimum. Currently, wind power developers are not required to conduct any wildlife-related studies, leaving regulation of the fast-growing industry largely to local zoning officials.
The western wind that whips across Pittsburgh into the mountain ridges of central Pennsylvania has the power to send thousands of migrating eagles soaring for miles and to keep 115-foot-long windmill blades spinning.
But if birds and blades interact, the results could be fatal.
The National Aviary on the North Side and Powdermill Avian Research Center in Westmoreland County are partners in a project to track the biannual migration of eastern golden eagles through the Appalachian Mountains. They plan to share what they learn with agencies that permit wind farms.
They were once a common sight on the west Highland estate of Beinn an Tuirc, but as the landscape has changed over the past 40 years, there is now a greater chance of spotting a mountain hare at a tea party than on the moorland.
Now, a project by an energy company aims to establish a thriving community of the creatures by next Easter.
Scottish Power Renewables is offering £30 to rangers for every hare they hand over. The animals will be reintroduced to draw a pair of golden eagles, which feed on the hares, away from the wind turbines.
The company is offering cash after a call to estates for help failed to elicit a strong response.
Environmental groups are divided regarding rules adopted this week by Alameda County designed to reduce the number of golden eagles, raptors and other birds killed in the spinning blades of Altamont Pass wind turbines.
Under new permitting rules accepted after a 4-1 vote by county supervisors Wednesday, up to 4,800 privately operated turbines will be shut down during winter and turbine blades will be painted to make them easier for birds to see. The turbines will be shut down for two months or longer this winter and next, and for a quarter of the year or more beginning at the end of 2008.
Other restrictions might be adopted if bird deaths don’t drop by a half within three years.
The wide open spaces and natural terrain and wildlife of Southeastern Washington are fading, and some residents would like the encroaching effects of urbanization toned down, such as a proposed project that would place 35 to 50 turbines on Rattlesnake Mountain.
More than 30 people showed up Saturday at the Richland Community Center for a meeting to oppose a proposed windmill farm at the base of the mountain. ...Rick Leaumont, chairman of the Audubon Society's conservation committee, agreed that urgency in protesting the project is necessary because about 238 bird species have been documented in the area, and would be effected by the windmills.
"Wildlife needs some kind of solitude, a place that is theirs," Leaumont said. "Any location on the mountain would be a problem."
Concerned citizens of the Deerfield Valley, and as far away as the Berkshires, have come together to form "Save Vermont Ridgelines."
The current proposal before the public service board, to allow or deny construction of an industrial wind power plant on 80 acres of highly visible United States Forest Service- controlled ridgelines, has brought us together to consider the scope and consequences of these 17 410-feet tall machines, with flashing lights stretched across one of the area's most prominent ridgelines. ...The goal of our group is to inform the public of the full intent and consequences of this proposed wind experiment.
Alliance members said they had hoped to obtain intervenor status so they could request an environmental study be conducted, assessing the wind farms’ possible impact on migrating birds and habitat. The alliance earlier this week announced the preliminary results of an assessment it commissioned, which suggested the wind farms could prove harmful to migrating birds. ...“By refusing the participation of experts who have come to the table to offer their experience and assistance, the PUC is denying itself and our state the benefit of their knowledge and insight,” said Jim Blackburn, an Austin attorney and the alliance’s founder, in a statement.
Although wind energy production is increasing in the Mountain State, two groups argue that it might ultimately be detrimental.
Every energy source has its critics ranging from the oil and gas industry to the wind industry and although these sources have their benefits, there is a downside to the equation.
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.
TWO RIVERS – A guest speaker will outline his research results on bird and bat mortality at wind farms in Kewaunee County at a meeting of the Aegolius Bird Club at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Woodland Dunes Nature Center.