Impact on Wildlife and Oregon
Next fall, developers hope to break ground on a wind farm big enough to provide electricity for all of Central Oregon. But the whirring blades of wind turbines can kill the federally protected golden eagle --.and now a controversial proposal says that's okay, to a limited extent.
Wednesday's letter was signed by Seattle Audubon, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Conservation Northwest, the American Bird Conservancy and the Gifford Pinchot Task Force. It said the Fish and Wildlife Service made "multiple factual errors" in its earlier finding.
Among them: The agency implied that the owl documented in 2010 in the vicinity of the project was detected only three times.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking the project developers to make up for the lost habitat, and Horizon project manager Valerie Franklin says that means finding conservation easements for 35,000 acres of neighboring lands, which she estimates would cost the company $145 million.
Kaufman is editor of the Kaufman Field Guide Series, a series of books on birds and national history sold all over North America.
"I moved to this area from Arizona because the bird migration here is so spectacular. ...He said radar studies are needed to get a sense of bird movements before the turbines are installed.
Existing wind farms are being reviewed and pending projects are under scrutiny for their potential bird impacts, with four seeing particular attention.
The issue is the latest sign of increasing tension between wind development and rural concerns in Oregon.
“The service believes the project, including all turbines, transmission and roads, and associated facilities has the potential to result in injury and mortality of individual eagles and potential loss of nest sites over the life of the project,” wrote Nancy Gilbert, USFWS field supervisor, in the Sept. 20 report.
A recent study in Klickitat County, Washington indicates 6,500 birds and 3,000 bats are killed annually in the two states-though the number of deaths in the two states may be much higher. ...an untold number of birds are devoured by vultures or coyotes before they're included in the count.
Green power, green jobs, renewable energy collide with the Endangered Species Act in a proposed wind farm in Southwest Washington. The project calling for between 48-60 megawatts of power is proposed for 3,359 acres of Washington Department of Natural Resources land northwest of Naselle, Washington. ...The DNR has the power to stop the project if it deems the project endangers Murrelets.
Environmental groups in Oregon have united to oppose the construction of new wind farms in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.
One county is listening to their concerns. Umatilla County Planning Commission members intend to hear an amendment to the community's Comprehensive Plan that could ban future wind power developments from certain areas.
The Bureau of Land Management is using some stimulus money to study the effect of wind farms on a dwindling sage grouse population in Central Oregon.
BLM spokesman Michael Campbell said the agency hopes to lessen or eliminate any impact.
The agency would hire people to tag sage grouse in areas where wind farms are proposed and track the birds' movements to figure out where turbines could be located. Contracts have not yet been awarded.
A controversial proposal to site wind turbines on Sevenmile Hill near The Dalles has been cancelled.
A letter from Massachusetts-based applicant First Wind dated Jan. 20 formally withdrew the company's application. ..."We're dancing in the street," said attorney Mark Womble, a Sevenmile resident who was part of fierce opposition to the plan. "We're excited. We're very happy."
Big plans east of Bend may come down to a small bird, the sage grouse. Central Oregon's first commercial wind farm could be up and running as soon as next year, unless it runs into environmental or other obstacles its backers cannot overcome.
The $220 million project would be built on private land 30 miles east of Bend. However, the project is facing some scrutiny over it's impact on the wildlife habitat.
A 10,000-acre ranch that stretches into both Crook and Deschutes counties could be the site for Central Oregon's first commercial wind farm. ...But some environmental and wildlife groups point out it could also further threaten sage grouse and harm other animals.
"Our point of view is we want to support renewable energy products. But just because it's renewable energy doesn't mean there aren't impacts," said Brent Fenty, executive director of the Bend-based Oregon Natural Desert Association.
Wind turbines are the hottest rage in 'going green' but the technology has a dangerous side for endangered salmon in the Columbia River. ...it is important to understand that there are serious concerns to consider.
You see, when the wind is really blowing and the farms are operating at maximum capacity, the present system will not be able to handle all of that electricity, which ultimately affects fish.
This isn't just a theory - it actually happened recently. At the end of June, there was an unexpected surge in wind power and too much energy was created for the regional grid to handle. To compensate, the dams cut their power by spilling more water.
Citizens in the Milton-Freewater area took another opportunity to voice their opposition to wind turbines in the Blue Mountains at a city council meeting Monday night.
What started as an informational meeting by Horizon Wind Farms representative Valerie Schafer-Franklin turned into a discussion between citizens both on and off Weston Mountain about what they want to see happen, or not happen, in the Blues.
In Harney County, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the county have seen a jump in interest surrounding the windy Eastern Oregon ridges and peaks near Steens Mountain as wind development companies look for different sources of the renewable power to meet state standards.
Harney County has already permitted one wind farm and is considering three more ...
But the wind farms that have either been approved or are under construction would add 2,400 megawatts to that total in the coming years, he said.
"Oregon in the next couple of years will move from around ninth in the country (for wind power production) to maybe third," Torres said.
A Massachusetts-based energy company is running into roadblocks as it tries to develop a wind farm on the hills above this Columbia Gorge town.
It has been nearly a year since UPC Wind first asked state regulators to review the 40-turbine project in the windy stretches of the gorge. Revisions promised more than six months ago, have yet to materialize.
UPC is faced with problems trying to rearrange the turbines to make them less visible from a federally protected scenic area, but still in breezy enough spots to produce a moneymaking venture.
The company also is also trying to mollify angry residents near the proposed site, on Sevenmile Hill. It is organized and strong.
An energy developer from New York is moving forward with a project to build a gargantuan wind farm along the Columbia River in Gilliam and Morrow counties.
If built out as proposed, Shepherd's Flat wind farm would be the largest in the Northwest and more than double the size of any individual wind project under development in Oregon. It would include as many as 303 wind turbines, some stretching 500 feet tall. At peak capacity, the project could generate up to 909 megawatts ...It would include 57 miles of new access roads, two substations, six meteorological towers, 17 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and another 103 miles of collector transmission lines. The application lists about 25 landowners within the site or within 500 feet of its boundaries.
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."
Wind farms apparently aren't quite as harmless and "green" as promoters like to say. It appears they may present a threat to eagles and hawks, especially along the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington.
This should be no great surprise. There is nothing that man can do that does not exact some sort of price on the rest of nature. The trick is finding the lowest price. ...But when it comes to birds, the price gets much steeper. It is feared that with hundreds or even thousands of these windmills close together, they could start exacting a heavy toll on large birds that live in those regions as their native habitat.