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Turbine's drawback could be blue heron

Each spring for the past three years, people in my neighborhood buzz about the return of flocks of great blue heron. ...Part of the reason the birds return to Bell Acres is Big Sewickley Creek, a small stream where the heron can fish undisturbed. But how much longer they remain undisturbed is anybody's guess. At the July 20 meeting of Bell Acres' Planning Commission, a proposal was introduced to turn a field about a half-mile from the heron nests into an "alternative energy center."

Each spring for the past three years, people in my neighborhood buzz about the return of flocks of great blue heron.

The magnificent birds migrate to our area from warmer climes each March, and it's one of life's awe-inspiring moments to watch them build nests and raise young in tall trees along Big Sewickley Creek Road in Bell Acres.

Part of the reason the birds return to Bell Acres is Big Sewickley Creek, a small stream where the heron can fish undisturbed. But how much longer they remain undisturbed is anybody's guess.

At the July 20 meeting of Bell Acres' Planning Commission, a proposal was introduced to turn a field about a half-mile from the heron nests into an "alternative energy center." What's ruffling feathers in this quiet suburb next to Sewickley is the proposed erection of a wind turbine on the property. Some locals fear it would threaten birds.

Don Williams, a representative of Road Runner Planning and Consulting, the firm that hopes to develop the 11-acre property into a two-phase green energy workshop of sorts, says he's confident the project will proceed when the question of whether the turbine will affect the heron is resolved.

"The heron were one of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Each spring for the past three years, people in my neighborhood buzz about the return of flocks of great blue heron.

The magnificent birds migrate to our area from warmer climes each March, and it's one of life's awe-inspiring moments to watch them build nests and raise young in tall trees along Big Sewickley Creek Road in Bell Acres.

Part of the reason the birds return to Bell Acres is Big Sewickley Creek, a small stream where the heron can fish undisturbed. But how much longer they remain undisturbed is anybody's guess.

At the July 20 meeting of Bell Acres' Planning Commission, a proposal was introduced to turn a field about a half-mile from the heron nests into an "alternative energy center." What's ruffling feathers in this quiet suburb next to Sewickley is the proposed erection of a wind turbine on the property. Some locals fear it would threaten birds.

Don Williams, a representative of Road Runner Planning and Consulting, the firm that hopes to develop the 11-acre property into a two-phase green energy workshop of sorts, says he's confident the project will proceed when the question of whether the turbine will affect the heron is resolved.

"The heron were one of the concerns voiced at the meeting, but we've done research and we should be getting back to (Bell Acres Planning) proving that there should be no impact. This is only a 60-foot turbine. That's not the type you see from the turnpike out in Somerset on the wind farm," Williams said.

The proposed alternative energy center sounds like an excellent thing for the region, since it would provide a showcase for green energy technologies, including solar power. In time, the developers hope to generate enough power that they could sell electricity back to utility companies, Williams said.

The land, located on a dusty stretch of road near the Wine Concrete Co., was donated by restaurant entrepreneur Gary Reinert, Williams said. Once up and running, the project would bring several green jobs and be the first of its kind here.

But with the creation of environmentally-conscious energy comes the risk of serious damage to birds. As early as 2005, USA Today reported on a row of wind turbines near San Francisco that killed 4,700 birds each year as they flew through the massive blades. Among them were protected eagles, owls and red-tailed hawks.

For environmentalists, this is a dilemma of the worst kind: Clean up the planet by creating pollution-free energy, yet possibly harm the very wildlife environmentalists want to protect.

Hopefully, a solution can be found in Bell Acres that won't have to compromise one of nature's creations for another.


Source: http://www.pittsburghlive.c...

AUG 20 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/21813-turbine-s-drawback-could-be-blue-heron
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