Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from Oregon
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.
The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and five other conservation groups released this report in response to the growing pressure to site renewable energy projects on open desert land in Oregon. While the ONDA supports renewable energy development and believes that such development can help reduce fossil fuel consumption and create sustainable economies for rural communities, the organization sees an urgent need to analyze where wind power potential is the highest and wildlife and social conflicts are the lowest. The analysis is important in ensuring projects can be developed without degradation of desert wildlands and damage to sensitive wildlife populations. This report was created through the mapping and analysis of the areas identified by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory as having the best wind power potential. This data is compared with sensitive natural resources such as Greater sage-grouse breeding areas. The report includes a narrative outlining the nature of the potential conflicts with wind energy development as well as Best Practices and guidelines to minimize impacts.
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.
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. ...Wind farms consist of tall windmills with three big blades each. Already they have exacted a price - by altering the view of the barren hillsides where they've been set up. ...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. ...If it turns out that the windmills kill large numbers of big raptors, those proud "Blue Sky" signs on people's lawns might well disappear. It's one thing to consume power when the side effects include some air pollution far away or damage to fish at Northwest dams. But to be contributing to the demise of eagles that are batted out of the sky by whirling blades, that would be something else.
By December 2007, more than 1,500 turbines will be churning out electricity in the Columbia River Gorge. Scientists are also concerned that since the turbines are nearing along the ridge of the gorge, canyons and shrub-covered rangeland, the natural habitats of the birds could be at risk. ...Wildlife biologists in Oregon and Washington state say the turbines are taking toll on raptors and other birds and it may limit expansion of clean wind energy.
A proposed wind farm on Seven Mile Hill near the tiny town of Mosier, Oregon is the centerpiece of the trouble that stems from development near a protected scenic area. The Cascade Wind Project, proposed by UPC Wind Partners, has thus far drawn serious opposition from not only residents of Mosier, but throughout the Gorge and beyond. The farm would be built just outside the Scenic Area boundary, and the 389-foot-high turbines of the 40 towers would be clearly visible from many areas in the Gorge, including Interstate 84 and McCall Point Trail. "This proposal is a slap in the face of the protection rights that everybody in the Gorge has had to live up to for the past twenty years," says Mike Rockwell, a real estate agent who lives in Mosier. "It's simply not a wise location."
The rapid expansion of wind energy farms in the Columbia River Gorge's shrub steppes could put hawks, eagles and other raptors on a collision course with fields of giant turbines and their 150-foot blades. ...Nationwide, collisions kill about 2.3 birds of all varieties per turbine per year, studies show. But birders say those numbers are meaningless because the totals make no distinction between abundant and rare species. Golden eagles and ferruginous hawks -- a threatened species in Washington -- already are few in number, said Michael Denny of the Blue Mountain Audubon Society, and even a few fatalities could prove devastating. "We'll have certain species in sharp local decline," Denny said.