WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Ohio Air National Guard said today that it disapproves of a plan to build a large wind turbine at Camp Perry, handing birding groups a decision they hailed as "a huge win for migratory birds."
The Black Swamp Bird Observatory, based in Ottawa County, teamed with the American Bird Conservancy in March to file a lawsuit seeking to block construction of the wind turbine, which they criticized as a "lethal bird-killing machine" for bald eagles and migrating songbirds and bats.
The planned construction site for the wind turbine was less than a mile from Lake Erie near Port Clinton, and situated at one of the largest confluences of migratory birds and bats in the world, said Michael Hutchins of the Bird Conservancy.
The lakeshore location is in the vicinity of numerous bald eagle nests and one of the most reliable staging grounds for such endangered species as Kirtland's warbler and piping plover.
Hutchins called the proposed turbine site "perhaps the worst possible place for wind energy development."
The Ohio Air National Guard said it did not approve or authorize plans to install a turbine at Camp Perry, "and that it has no plans to do so," Hutchins said.
In response, the American Bird Conservancy and Black Swamp Bird Observatory agreed to dismiss the federal lawsuit.
Kimberly Kaufman, BSBO's executive director, said she was relieved by the National Guard's disavowal of the plan after five years of conflict. "It is our hope that this decision will send a strong message to others looking to develop wind energy in this area," she said.
The developers of a $120 million, six-turbine wind farm located in Lake Erie offshore from Cleveland are in the process of obtaining certification from the state to proceed with the project. But first, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. must obtain two memorandums of understanding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources involving monitoring studies and analyses of the project's impact on birds, bats and fish.
The Birding Conservancy and Black Swamp groups also oppose LEEDCo's Icebreaker project, which if approved would become the nation's first offshore freshwater wind farm.