Articles filed under Impact on Wildlife from Wisconsin
Classified as an endangered species in Wisconsin, the phlox moth has been cataloged in five counties, including Jackson and Monroe. It relies on the downy phlox plant, which according to the DNR does not rapidly colonize new openings. The frosted elfin butterfly lives in similar habitats and is listed as threatened in the state.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing an environmental impact statement to evaluate the potential of issuing incidental take permits for protected bird and bat species if regional wind industry development grows. According to a news release by the service, the states within the plan are Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. It is called the Midwest Wind Energy Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has begun to work with Wisconsin and seven other Midwest states on a habitat conservation plan. The service says the aim is to promote the development of clean energy, while helping federally endangered species known to be at risk from wind farms.
Things are going badly for our wildlife populations in and around the operating industrial scale wind projects in Wisconsin. Anecdotal reports from people living in Wisconsin wind projects report an absence of normal wildlife, i.e. no turkey, no deer, fewer or no songbirds, and no bats. Relatives and friends outside the wind facility report greater numbers of deer and turkey.
Wisconsin’s endangered species law (s. 29.604, Wis. Stats.) requires the Department of Natural Resources to notify the public when it proposes to authorize the incidental taking of a state endangered or threatened species.
Nearby wind turbines, declining water quality and decreasing water levels at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Wisconsin earned the popular birders' destination the dubious distinction of being ranked the third most imperiled refuge in the nation, according to a list compiled by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. ...The uncertain impact of the wind turbines prompted another organization, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, to name Horicon one of the nation's most endangered refuges in a list released four years ago.
Jim Congdon said two friends living in the town of Byron are experiencing significant sound problems and constant blade flicker since the $250 million Forward Wind Energy Center began operating. "It's extremely irritating," he said. "What is the company going to do with somebody like that?" Laura Miner, asset manager associate for Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC, said it's currently fielding all complaints . "What we did when we built the project was to have a 1,000-foot setback and try to prevent some of those things from happening," she said. "Now we're doing drive-by tests and going up to the houses to try to gauge what's going on."
Three developers are talking about putting up wind turbines in the offshore waters to generate electricity. ...One plan calls for 390 turbines in an area about 18 miles east of Milwaukee, according to the newspaper report. Another would put 610 turbines one to two miles offshore from Kewaunee to Kenosha. ...We have concerns about the effect hundreds of Lake Michigan turbines would have on recreational boating, not to mention sport and commercial fishing, all of which are vital to the Sheboygan area's economy. There is also the danger that wind turbines rising hundreds of feet into the air pose to migratory birds.
"I do favor wind energy," says County Board Chairman Merlin Gentz, but the panel saw enough research suggesting that low-frequency vibrations and constant noise justify the setback. "No one," he says, "is saying they should be as close as 1,000 feet." Except for the companies building them and environmentalists pushing them. Renew Wisconsin, a windmill lobby group, has been decrying Calumet County's qualms for months now. In one letter to county officials, the group argued against any kind of environmental impact study since that "presumes that wind energy is an inherently harmful technology." Neighbors say it could harm the daylights out of their resale value or their peace and quiet. Windmill backers pretty much tell them to get over it.
Although they have lost more than one battle in the war to keep wind turbines from encroaching on the nearby Horicon Marsh, a local environmental group vows to fight for wildlife until the end. "We plan to monitor the project and bring news of bird kills to the attention of the media and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to push for charges in accordance with the Bird Migratory Treaty Act," said Curt Kindschuh, public information officer for Horicon Marsh Systems Advocates. "The death of Sandhill cranes, Canada geese, eagles, hawks, any migratory bird at all could result in significant state and federal fines for Invenergy or the hosting landowners."
SPRING VALLEY TOWNSHIP - When Kevin and Lynda Kawula first heard about a wind farm proposal for Magnolia Township, they thought it sounded like a good idea. But as they attended meetings and researched the issue, their opinions changed. "It seemed like enough people were concerned that we got concerned," he said. ...The Kawulas visited the Montfort wind farm in Iowa County. It has 20 turbines with 30 megawatts of capacity. "It's like moving back into a metropolitan area," he said. "It's an airport where the planes never land." Being around the turbines and high voltage power lines make Kevin feel physically ill with pressure headaches, he said.
Underlying all of those concerns is the question of whether wind power is a long-term energy alternative that can survive without taxpayer subsidies. "The biggest problem is the unreliability," said Ben Lieberman, a senior energy and environment policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation. "With wind power, you just don't know when the wind will be blowing." Importantly, Lieberman noted, it's on the hottest days--the time of greatest energy demand--when wind power is most likely to fail.
There has been very few wind projects built in the state since 2000, though more are planned in the next 12 to 24 months, said Ed Blume, spokesperson for the nonprofit environmental group RENEW Wisconsin. ...According to Blume, the biggest challenges to increasing wind power in the state are more at the local level. The largest complaints in regard to wind turbines are noise level, moving shadows created by the blades and harm to birds. The state typically requires turbines to be 1,000 feet from homes, with noise levels varying on the speed of the wind and how close a home is to the turbine. Bjurlin said the turbines at the Springfield site are loudest in 18 mile per hour winds, with winds over that amount being louder than the sound of the blades.
Nearby Johnstown Township is higher in elevation, but the environment doesn't bode well for turbines, Slaymaker said. Parts of the town reach 1,051 to 1,079 feet in elevation, but much of that area is wooded, he said. Aside from the physical obstructions, wooded areas bring more environmental concerns such as birds and bats, he said. Town of La Prairie officials have not had formal discussion about writing a wind farm ordinance, but they know it's coming, town Chairman Michael Saunders said. "Unfortunately, in the town business we've got to know more and more about less and less," he said. "This is one issue I've started to watch on the horizon."
That pretty much leaves energy conservation as the only option everyone can agree on, and the challenge won't be resolved simply by building more energy-efficient devices and turning off the lights in rooms we're not using. Either the "green" movement needs to lighten up on alternatives to fossil fuel or get used to the idea that we're going to be burning a lot of coal and natural gas for the long haul.
"Does it seem odd to anyone but me that the April 2005 through March 2006 bird study shows exactly what Forward Energy was looking for - even though it was compiled and analyzed by people who have far less professional experience than those who have written studies that are contrary to this one," stated Dr. Kaspar. "Furthermore, the data does not support the conclusions."
MADISON — A draft report of a one-year study of the distribution and behavior of birds in Forward Energy's wind farm near Horicon Marsh concludes that the project won't significantly interfere with nesting or migratory patterns of the rarer bird species observed. The report was prepared by Curry and Kerlinger LLC of McLean, Va. from a three-part study designed in cooperation with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Public Service Commission staff. A final report will be issued after a DNR and PSC staff review. The study's primary purpose was to acquire data for use in before and after comparisons when construction of the 133 wind turbines, each with an overall height of 400 feet, is completed. The project will be spread over 33,000 acres in Byron and Oakfield townships. The closest turbine would be located within two miles of Horicon Marsh, a stopover for thousands of migratory birds.
TWO RIVERS – A guest speaker will outline his research results on bird and bat mortality at wind farms in Kewaunee County at a meeting of the Aegolius Bird Club at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Woodland Dunes Nature Center.