Library filed under Impact on Birds from Washington
Justyna Tomta’s article on the Skookumchuck Wind Energy Project (Dec. 16, 2017) states that “Questions on the effects the turbines would have on the marbled murrelet were also raised, leading to the change in plans.”
It can be difficult to know exactly how many bird deaths a proposed wind farm may cause while it’s still under review, New said. The only way to know for sure is to build it and observe it, she said. But by then, it’s unlikely that the problem will be fixed. “You’re not going to take it down and move it if you’ve built it in the wrong place,” New said.
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."
But an agency official says the five public utilities backing the proposed 82-megawatt Radar Ridge project failed to understand the environmental review process the service was required to follow in considering a project that could affect the threatened marbled murrelet, a rare seabird that nests in old-growth forests near the ocean.
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.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosted two Radar Ridge Wind Project "scoping" meetings last week in Lacey and Naselle, reviewing both the promise and objections to the alternative energy development.
The surveys, which are financed by the wind industry, indicate that wind power is a relatively minor hazard to birds. But some scientists say it is still too soon to discount the risks posed by the rush to develop Northwest wind power. They are particularly concerned with the plight of hawks, eagles and other raptors, which are large, long-lived birds at the top of the food chain.
A recent study in Klickitat County, Washington shows that active wind farms in Washington and Oregon kill more than 6,500 birds and 3,000 bats annually. Biologist Orah Zamora works for West, Inc., an ecological field study company, monitors the Windy Flats project, one of the largest wind farms in the United States. Zamora looks for dead birds and bats that have been severed by the spinning blades.
Backers of putting Western Washington's first big wind farm on a ridge near Naselle are trying to keep the project from falling apart after the development's largest investor declined this week to sink more money into the environmentally contentious proposal. ...The utilities say they've shown that the chances of a marbled murrelet being hit by wind blade in any given year would be less than fifty-fifty. Environmental groups dispute that conclusion, and the wildlife service has demanded more environmental studies.
Public utilities planning Western Washington's first large wind farm declared Tuesday that the towers would kill less than one threatened marbled murrelet a year over the long run. The claim was greeted with skepticism by state and federal agencies that must OK the project. ..."We don't want to have a wind farm that starts hitting home runs with marbled murrelets and has to be shut down or torn down, or drives the marbled murrelet to extinction."
A proposal to build the first wind farm in Western Washington may stall, and may even be doomed, because of concern that turbine blades would kill members of an endangered bird species, a state lawmaker says. "I'm just not feeling real confident that this is going to grab hold and move forward very fast," Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview, said last week. "There are key players who aren't very supportive, and I think it's going to hold this up. Is it going to kill it? I don't know."
The Washington Department of Natural Resources is no longer considering leasing 2,560 acres of state trust land to SDS Lumber Co. for possible future expansion of the proposed Whistling Ridge Energy Project in Skamania County. A notice released by the DNR's Ellensburg office on Aug. 10 says the agency "is no longer considering a lease" but could reconsider the option at some future date. "The reason it was withdrawn was because of issues with endangered species," DNR spokesman Aaron Toso said Friday.
Jason Lowe, a biologist with the Bureau of Land Management's Eastern Washington office in Spokane, ...conducted two field surveys this spring and summer, which confirmed what he feared: The hawks are fewer and farther between. Where there were 17 nesting pairs in 1987 in the Juniper Dunes area of Franklin County, only four were spotted last year and just one this year. ...Wind farms are proliferating in Southeast Washington and Northeast Oregon, which is a concern, he said. "Information is not complete, but there have been reports of hawks being hit by the (rotating windmill) blades," he said. While ferruginous hawks are unlikely to nest on ridges where windmills are located, they typically forage for food over a 17-mile radius, and that can include wind farms.
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.
With frequent ferocity, The Columbian has expressed editorial support for both: -- Wind energy as an alternative energy source. -- The Endangered Species Act. But what happens when those two advocacies collide, when wind turbines kill birds, especially birds of a threatened species? ...If forced into a corner of mandatory choice, we suspect the proper view would be to support the ESA and the birds, for one simple reason: Extinction is precisely that, irreversible.
A proposal by an Eastern Washington utility consortium to build the state's first coastal wind farm by 2011 has run smack up against the habitat requirements of a threatened seabird. Energy Northwest, based in the Tri-Cities, has signed a lease with the Washington Department of Natural Resources to build a wind farm on 3,359 acres of state trust land near Naselle, in Pacific County.
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.
A state wildlife biologist says the Whistling Ridge Wind Project, proposed for a timbered ridge in eastern Skamania County, could cause high wildlife mortality, especially for bats and raptors. Surveys of the 1,152-acre site, including those done for the applicant, Bingen-based SDS Lumber Co., show the area is heavily used by bats, raptors and other birds, biologist Michael Ritter said in formal comments to the state agency that will decide whether to approve the project.
A golden eagle died last month when it collided with a wind turbine blade at a 47-turbine wind farm in Klickitat County. The April 27 collision at the Goodnoe Hills Wind Project southeast of Goldendale was the first known eagle casualty caused by a Washington wind project. "I don't know of any other eagle fatalities in the state in connection with colliding with a turbine blade," said Travis Nelson, the state's lead wildlife biologist on wind power issues. He called the incident "unfortunate."
Then came onto the Whisky Dick came the 9,100-acre Wild Horse facility, owned by Puget Sound Energy, 127 wind turbines ...Some feared they might end the area's sage grouse future. And now that a grouse and a nest have been found there? "I think it's still too early to know," said Mike Schroeder, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife upland bird research biologist considered the state's foremost expert on sage grouse. "One, it's just one nest. I've had sage grouse nest in wheat fields where there was absolutely zero chance of success. You have birds that do strange things. ..."There are issues -- the blades killing birds, the blades killing bats," said Andy Stepniewski, author of "The Birds of Yakima County" and program chair of the Yakima Valley Audubon. "The bigger issue is the footprint, the habitat fragmentation. The footprint of each one is a lot bigger than one can imagine, because of the size of the machine, the size of the road; these are enormous trucks that bring these huge turbines in there. "The habitat is significantly impacted.