This is a letter of concern about wind energy farms coming to Western Maryland from the Allegany/Garrett Sportsmen's Association. We are conservation and sportsmen's association that represents multiple clubs in the western region. Our membership ranges between 4,000 and 5,000 members and their families. We are also a partner of the Wildlife Division and have worked with them over the years on many issues regarding wildlife, wildlife habitat, hunting, fishing, and game land management.
Our organization is not totally against "wind energy" as an alternative energy resource. However, we are adamantly opposed to "wind energy turbines being installed on all state lands." There are legal issues that could prevail if turbines are installed on state lands that were purchased with federal grants and other treasuries. Also much of the state lands were purchased with funds generated through the Pittman and Robertson Act through purchases of sporting goods by all sportsmen.
We are also opposed to these turbines being installed on private property in western Maryland. Much research has revealed that it will cause wildlife mortality, avian mortality, wildlife habitat loss and destruction, public land loss to recreational activities, and public access denied to both public and private lands because of liability issues where these turbines are installed. Once the energy companies make their money and get their tax breaks the taxpayers of the state of Maryland will be paying for the maintenance and or removal of these giants from our lands. This initiative will not benefit the residents of western Maryland.
Allegany/Garrett Sportsmen's Association understands "wind energy" will play a role in future energy resources. We also understand the impacts on the environment, wildlife, and wildlife habitat it will cause. Habitat destruction and modification is a leading threat to the continued survival of wildlife species in the United states. It is now recognized wind energy, like all power generation technologies, can have adverse impacts, particularly on wildlife, and specifically on birds and bats and their habitats.
Large numbers of birds and bats have been well documented to cross virtually all parts of the United states, including along mountain ridges, coastlines and in broad front migrations from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic coast during their seasonal migrations. Consequently, wind power projects located in areas with a high presence of birds and bats could potentially impact these animals. High levels of bat mortality have been documented at two facilities in Appalachia, as well as at facilities in Oklahoma and southern Alberta, Canada.
Wind power facilities may also have other impacts on wildlife through alterations of habitat, disturbance, and behavioral modification. The impacts of wind power facilities on wildlife vary by region and species. Specifically, studies show that wind power facilities in central California, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have killed large numbers of raptors and bats.
The state of Maryland land mass is approximately 9,774 square miles which converts to approximately 6,255,360 acres. Maryland's DNR controls and manages approximately 446,103 acres as Wildlife Management Areas, state Forest, and state Parks. Maryland being a small state would be considered in the lower percentage of landmass.
Our organization cares deeply about wildlife and our precious natural resources in our region. As population increases there will be even greater demand for the use of these lands. We must protect these remaining natural resources for future generations to enjoy. Wind energy would be a better fit for states with large landmasses.
We feel this new energy technology should be considered for "Off Shore Projects Only" this would have minimal impact on wildlife and wildlife habitat destruction. The Wind Development Companies should be required to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who has strict guidelines regarding this energy resource. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been a leader in setting up guidelines to protect our wildlife, habitat, and all natural resources.
The state of Maryland is responsible for the permits and regulations of this energy resource. Wind Technology will leave a footprint on our Natural Resources. The state of Maryland should not take its responsibility lightly. We would also recommend that the state of Maryland require Energy Companies to abide by the following acts before permits are issued:
National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, Wildlife and Refuge Coordination Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act - Off shore projects
We are requesting your total support and regulation regarding wind energy Resources in the state of Maryland. This is a very important issue to all Marylander's and will be monitored closely.
William M. Wilhelm, president
Allegany/Garrett Sportsmen's Association
Editor's note: This letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley was released to the Times-News for publication.