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Hatchet Ridge wind turbines kill hundreds of birds

A wind farm in eastern Shasta County was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 339 birds in the first two years after it started generating electricity, according to studies done at Hatchet Ridge.

However the studies say no bald eagles were killed by the 44 turbines that are lined up for 61/2 miles along a ridge just west of Burney.

Before construction, opponents of the project were concerned bald eagles would be killed by the wind turbine blades, but the studies say no eagles were found during searches for carcasses around the turbines.

“It was definitely a big concern,” Bill Walker, a Shasta County senior planner, said of the eagles. “In this particular case, it doesn’t seem to be happening.”

This is the final year of studies required after the turbines were built in 2010, unless carcass surveys show sensitive species, such as bald eagles and sandhill cranes, are being killed at amounts greater than anticipated.

So far, no sandhill cranes or bald eagles have been killed, the reports say.

County officials required Pattern Energy Co., which owns the turbines, to keep track of the number of birds killed at the site. Tetra Tech Inc. of Portland,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A wind farm in eastern Shasta County was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 339 birds in the first two years after it started generating electricity, according to studies done at Hatchet Ridge.

However the studies say no bald eagles were killed by the 44 turbines that are lined up for 61/2 miles along a ridge just west of Burney.

Before construction, opponents of the project were concerned bald eagles would be killed by the wind turbine blades, but the studies say no eagles were found during searches for carcasses around the turbines.

“It was definitely a big concern,” Bill Walker, a Shasta County senior planner, said of the eagles. “In this particular case, it doesn’t seem to be happening.”

This is the final year of studies required after the turbines were built in 2010, unless carcass surveys show sensitive species, such as bald eagles and sandhill cranes, are being killed at amounts greater than anticipated.

So far, no sandhill cranes or bald eagles have been killed, the reports say.

County officials required Pattern Energy Co., which owns the turbines, to keep track of the number of birds killed at the site. Tetra Tech Inc. of Portland, Ore., was hired to count bird carcasses around the turbines.

In 2011, company workers counted dead birds at 22 of the turbines every other week and counted carcasses at the remaining 22 turbines once a month. Based on the number of birds found, they estimated 254 birds were killed that year.

Of the estimated 254 birds killed, 28 were waterfowl, 206 were small birds and three were raptors. Some of the birds could not be identified, the report says. The report also estimates 226 bats were killed in 2011.

For 2012, an estimated 85 birds and 529 bats were killed, the report says. In 2012, there were an estimated 40 waterfowl killed, 32 small birds and one raptor were also killed.

The actual number of birds was much less than the estimated number of birds killed. In 2011, searchers found 70 birds and 23 bats around the turbines. In 2012, they found 37 birds and 26 bats.

Jim Wiegand of Redding, a self-described bird advocate, questioned the accuracy of the reports. He said the number of bird deaths is drastically under-reported.

Counters miss many bird carcasses because they don’t look in a large enough area, and the time interval between searches allows wild animals to carry away many bird carcasses, Wiegand said.

He said the searches should look in a 200-meter radius (656 feet) around each turbine. The report said searchers looked in a 63-meter radius around the turbines, or about 207 feet. Each of the towers, including the turbine blades, is 418 feet tall, more than four times the height of the 97-foot-tall Shasta County Jail.

“They don’t care what’s happening out in remote locations,” Wiegand said.

Tetra Tech officials did not return phone calls seeking comment about the reports. The reports say, though, that carcass scavenging is compensated for in bird kill estimates.

But Bruce Webb, a retired state Department of Fish and Wildlife employee, said Tetra Tech followed accepted scientific procedures in doing the studies.

“It is a standardized methodology accepted by the wildlife regulatory community,” he said.

While a DFW employee, Webb represented the agency in negotiations with the county and the wind farm developer to reduce the turbines’ effects on wildlife.

Since he retired in 2010, he has been the Wintu Audubon Society’s representative on a technical advisory committee overseeing monitoring at the site.

“It is not out of line and it is not extraordinarily high,” Webb said.

Walker said he thought it was remarkable no eagles were being killed, even though a pair of bald eagles were nesting and raising young at nearby Lake Margaret.

But Wiegand said he used to see peregrine falcons nesting near Lake Shasta, but since the wind turbines were built the falcons are gone. He said he also sees fewer eagles around the lake since the turbines were erected.

“It’s all a shell game. It’s all a flim flam,” Wiegand said.


Source: http://archive.redding.com/...

OCT 19 2013
http://www.windaction.org/posts/51602-hatchet-ridge-wind-turbines-kill-hundreds-of-birds
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