Article

Northern wind farm raises habitat worry

Biologists for Fish and Game said the project of Granite Reliable Power LLC to build 33 turbines in the Dixville Peak and Mount Kelsey area would permanently bisect habitat of at least four wildlife species and will have "severe and unmitigated adverse effects on the natural community," which is host to about 60 others. AMC has filed as an intervenor on the project, expressing concern about the siting of half of the 33 turbines for the same reasons.

A proposal to build an expansive wind farm in the high elevation lands of the Northern Forest has both the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the Appalachian Mountain Club voicing concern.

Biologists for Fish and Game said the project of Granite Reliable Power LLC to build 33 turbines in the Dixville Peak and Mount Kelsey area would permanently bisect habitat of at least four wildlife species and will have "severe and unmitigated adverse effects on the natural community," which is host to about 60 others.

AMC has filed as an intervenor on the project, expressing concern about the siting of half of the 33 turbines for the same reasons.

The rare species whose habitat and nesting would be potentially affected are:

--The American pine marten, a weasel-like animal that is reclusive and lives in high elevation fir forests. It is listed by the state as a threatened species.

--The Bicknell's thrush, a globally rare neo-tropical migrant bird with a flute-like voice, which nests in the dense spruce-and-fir forest. New Hampshire's mountains contain more than 40 percent of the world's known nesting habitat for the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A proposal to build an expansive wind farm in the high elevation lands of the Northern Forest has both the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the Appalachian Mountain Club voicing concern.

Biologists for Fish and Game said the project of Granite Reliable Power LLC to build 33 turbines in the Dixville Peak and Mount Kelsey area would permanently bisect habitat of at least four wildlife species and will have "severe and unmitigated adverse effects on the natural community," which is host to about 60 others.

AMC has filed as an intervenor on the project, expressing concern about the siting of half of the 33 turbines for the same reasons.

The rare species whose habitat and nesting would be potentially affected are:

--The American pine marten, a weasel-like animal that is reclusive and lives in high elevation fir forests. It is listed by the state as a threatened species.

--The Bicknell's thrush, a globally rare neo-tropical migrant bird with a flute-like voice, which nests in the dense spruce-and-fir forest. New Hampshire's mountains contain more than 40 percent of the world's known nesting habitat for the bird.

--The three-toed woodpecker, which the state lists as a threatened species.

--The Canada lynx, which the federal government deems a threatened species.

There are no local approvals required for the project.

The only licensing authority for the project is the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee. The board includes representatives of various state departments including the Department of Environmental Services, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Resources and Economic Development.

Its subcommittee plans to hold hearings beginning March 9 on the proposal for the windmill farm in the unincorporated places of Millsfield, Erving's Location, Dixville, Odell and the town of Dummer, north and west of Berlin.

The land is privately held and has been commercially logged for more than a century. It is known as the Phillips Brook and connects with Dixville Peak.

A final decision is due by April 6.

Under the company's prospectus, the $250 million project would produce enough electricity to power 33,000 homes and employ 200 during construction.

David Publicover of the AMC said that while the outdoor organization supports wind power development as a non-polluting source of power, some of the turbines proposed would "create an unacceptable risk to these species," in its Jan. 4 filing with the NHSED.

Mark Lyons, who is part of the development team for Granite Reliable Power, said his company shares some of the concerns being expressed and believes many of them can be remedied.

The company is meeting with Fish and Game officials to discuss the department's concerns.

The plan currently calls for 58 acres above 2,700 feet to be cleared to make room for the turbines, which will be 410 feet high.

There are more than 3,747 acres at that level or higher as part of the plan.

Local governing bodies in Coos County have voiced support for the project.

Peter Roth, counsel for the public, has requested that all of the hearings on the project be held exclusively in Coos County, but the NHSEC subcommittee has not yet met to determine a location for the meetings.

In the fall, the seven-member board, chaired by Thomas Getz of the Public Utilities Commission, visited the land where the project is proposed.

While the area has industrial forest, logged over the years, the rare spruce and fir forest here have not been so impacted over the years, said Fish and Game wildlife biologists Will Staats and Jillian Kelly, in testimony filed with the NHSEC in December.

Only 4 percent of the state's land mass includes this type of forest and these rare species rely on it.

Unlike logging, which is over and the land regenerates, the wind project will be a permanent change and the "activity has the potential to alter wildlife" movement and migration, according to the biologists.

Cutting at that elevation means there will be a long time for regeneration to occur, they said.


Source: http://www.unionleader.com/...

FEB 9 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/18970-northern-wind-farm-raises-habitat-worry
back to top