Articles filed under Impact on Wildlife from Oregon
... biggest impact to birds in Central and Eastern Oregon would likely be from wind turbines, thanks to the presence of several large wind energy projects in Eastern Oregon. Miller, a member of the East Cascade Audubon Society, said wind turbines disproportionately harm raptors, including falcons and golden eagles, relative to other human-made threats such as cars and power lines.
Touted as a green solution to feed our nation's hunger for energy, wind farms are also blamed for killing millions of birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 440,000 birds are killed nationwide each year by wind farms. The number is expected to reach one million per year by 2030. ..."What we don't want to be 10 - 15 years down the road is like the dams, another clean cheap form of energy that turns out to have huge impacts on salmon. It's very hard to go back and retrofit facilities once they're on the ground."
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.
All the posturing by wind industry big mouths cannot change the fact that the tips of the propellers of wind turbines (when the wind is blowing) spin at more than 200 miles per hour! If you were an eagle or an owl hunting for a meal-or any bird trying to fly over the hill along the Columbia River where wind farms are being built at a terrifying clip-imagine having to navigate these spinning blades every day.
Power from windmills is supposed to be great for the environment. But it's not. First, big wind farms are gobbling out vast areas of the West that until now were relatively undisturbed, sitting there as grazing land or farm fields, or as scenery. Then there's the deadly effect on birds.
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.
If not a free pass, wind power still gets a fairly strong presumption of social benefit. As the U.S and the world seek ways to produce more electricity without putting more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, wind turbines have acquired a popular reputation as a low-impact, high-tech replacement for older power plants. Reality is a good deal more complicated.
So why are wind companies not being prosecuted for killing birds? Rob Lee, now retired, was one of the Fish and Wildlife Service's lead law-enforcement investigators on the problem of bird kills in Western oil fields. Lee said that he doesn't expect to see any prosecutions because the wind industry is politically correct. This suggests a double standard. In protecting America's wildlife, federal law-enforcement officials are turning their backs on the harm done by "green" energy.
The final of three meetings on the highly-controversial issue of wind turbines in the foothills of the Blue Mountains takes place Thursday before the Umatilla County Planning Commission. We've said it before and we'll say it again: The commission should recognize there is a "significant resource" in our Blue Mountains and its foothills. Frankly, we don't see how the commission members could decide otherwise.
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.
It is well known that raptors commonly fly at an altitude that puts them at particular risk for collision with wind power blades. Proper siting was touted as the key to green wind power. So why is wind power being sited in an Audubon Important Bird Area, and why is that Important Bird Area slated for border to border wind power development? The answer is simple. Instead of proper planning, Northwest wind power is being allowed to develop wherever infrastructure is available and politicians are agreeable.
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.