Impact on Wildlife and Oklahoma
"We are supportive of green energy, but this is what you could call dirty-green energy," Hamilton said. "Wind farms are an industrial project and we are saying, 'Please don't put your industrial operations in one of the last tallgrass prairies. If you do this, you could create a dead zone for prairie chickens.' "
Osage County commissioners tabled a vote Monday on a proposed wind energy ordinance that has been criticized by tribal leaders and conservationists who say it needs "more teeth" to protect one of the last stretches of tallgrass prairie in the United States.
"This is work that should have been done 10 years ago when the first wind turbines were going up," Adams said.
Horton said lesser prairie chickens may be seen on wind farms, but studies have shown that they avoid vertical structures.
"If you're not producing little prairie chickens pretty soon you don't have big prairie chickens," he said.
That's because general plans for the 345-kilovolt route, known as the V-Plan and including a connecting line into Oklahoma, appear to take the line through prime nesting and breeding habitat for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken in both states.
With an estimated two-thirds of the unique bird's original habitat already eliminated by development, officials warn that further encroachment could place the bird on the nation's endangered species list.
There is no debate about it. The lesser prairie chicken and wind power farms do not mix.
"They're genetically predisposed to avoid any vertical structures," said Russ Horton, a research supervisor with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife. ...Officials still are concerned about the impact of wind farm development in Oklahoma's western counties.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission recently voted to secure millions of dollars for conservation projects with OG&E and Tulsa-based NatureWorks as well as set important hunting regulations and dates for new seasons on black bear, antelope, elk and others.
At its April meeting, the Commission approved a memorandum of agreement with OG&E. Through the agreement, OG&E will invest $3.75 million to help offset the impact of the "OU Spirit" wind farm on lesser prairie chickens and other wildlife in northwest Oklahoma.
The only people who don't like wind farms are the people who don't have one - that was the punch line of a humorous story T. Boone Pickens told the crowd at Revolution: Oklahoma Wind Conference on Tuesday. But on Wednesday, conference attendees heard from a few people who are concerned that the wind industry is growing too fast to fully account for its effect on the environment, the economy and a multitude of secondary issues.
Biologists say power-generating wind turbines proposed for northwestern Oklahoma could push the lesser prairie chicken onto the endangered species list or even into extinction.
Huge wind turbines have been proposed across the lesser prairie chicken's habitat in Oklahoma, but it is not the turbine's blades that pose a threat to the birds.
Information obtained from radio collar tracking indicate that lesser prairie chickens usually won't go near wind turbines
Wind farms will not be allowed on the state's public wildlife management areas.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously Monday to prohibit wind energy development on all of the state's public wildlife management areas.
Earlier this year, OG&E wanted to build a wind farm on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area near Woodward, property owned by the state Wildlife Department and used primarily for hunting.
After public opposition from sportsmen, OG&E withdrew its request to the state Wildlife Department.
Opponents to expanding wind energy on public land are voicing their opinions, and sometimes in a loud manner.
About 50 of those opponents met Wednesday with OG&E Electric Services and Department of Wildlife Conservation officials to discuss concerns about expanding Centennial Wind Farm north of Fort Supply onto Cooper Wildlife Management Area. It is a scenario OG&E says will not happen.
In light of growing local and statewide opposition and concern by wildlife organizations about the impact to the region's natural habitat, OG&E has declined to pursue the development of any wind energy on public land, officials said.
Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms.
Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266.
But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms.
"Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. wants to lease or buy from the state Department of Wildlife Conservation a portion of the Cooper Wildlife Management Area in northwest Oklahoma for its power-generating wind turbines.
It's curious that state wildlife commissioners would consider such a proposal when state wildlife officials have been clamoring that more public hunting land is needed in Oklahoma. ...At issue for state wildlife commissioners is to what extent would numerous wind turbines disturb wildlife on Cooper? And what kind of policy would they be creating if they choose to lease Cooper for a wind farm?
No doubt, other WMAs in western Oklahoma such as Beaver, Sandy Sanders and Packsaddle will be targeted for wind energy as well.
Sue Selman of Buffalo, president of Save The Prairie and an owner of the historic Selman Ranch north of Woodward, is against any wind turbines on Cooper. ..."Placing wind turbines on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area will fragment and destroy a large quantity of (wildlife) habitat," she said. "It's a gross injustice to our part of the state, to wildlife and to hunting."
There's an energy boom going on in the "oil patch" region of Oklahoma and Texas the likes of which has not been seen in decades. This time around, though, the prize isn't under our feet, it's in the swirling currents above our heads. A rapidly growing number of domestic and international energy companies have targeted western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle with plans for massive wind farm projects.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the sage-covered prairies of northwestern Oklahoma. Hundreds of wind turbines stretch like a giant picket fence across the landscape, towering above the game-rich high plains. At first glance it would seem to be a win-win for both the environment and society ...When it comes to energy production, however, you never get something for nothing. Case in point: as a result of this boom, one of the nation's top public land bobwhite quail hunting destinations may soon be covered with a network of roads, high-tension power lines, and wind turbines.