Library filed under Impact on Birds from Maine
Much of the scenic beauty for which Maine is so widely known will be despoiled. The stated 2,700-Megawatt goal of Maine’s Wind Energy Act would require as many as 1,500 wind turbines, each hundreds of feet tall, with accompanying access roads and new transmission lines, on up to 300 miles of Maine’s hills and mountains. Those transmission lines, to carry the electricity that could be provided by a single, high-quality conventional generator, will add billions of dollars to New England electric bills.
One trend that has come clear is the existence of historic migration corridors the birds favor. Another trend shown by the data is how sub-adult eagles show “fidelity” or an attachment to the nest site where they hatched.
The Bicknell's thrush - a medium-sized migrating songbird - has cleared the first stage of a long route that could lead to it being declared a threatened or endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday.
Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that TransCanada submitted a permit application to the Army Corps of Engineers for a federal "take" permit at the Sisk location. This indicates that the company knows the project could possibly interfere with or kill golden eagles. They are not pursuing the "take"permit at this time but say they will institute a long-term monitoring program.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has released its answers to questions and concerns raised earlier this year about a proposed wind-power project in Roxbury. As part of its review process, the department convened its public meeting on Feb. 18 to gather information and questions people had about the Record Hill Wind project. It proposes to site 22 wind turbines on Roxbury ridges running from Partridge Peak to Record Hill on the west side of Route 17.
As planners and developers zero in on locations for offshore wind turbines along the Maine coast, researchers such as Wing Goodale are trying to follow the birds. Goodale, a biologist with the BioDiversity Research Institute in Gorham, is about to release a report and a preliminary map of bird populations along the Maine coast. It's one of several efforts to prevent, or at least reduce, conflicts between offshore turbines and the animals that live in or pass through coastal Maine.
Diane Winn doesn't dispute the need for clean, renewable energy -- the kind provided by wind turbines and hydroelectric dams. But Winn and Marc Payne, her partner at Avian Haven Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, are all about saving injured or abandoned wild birds. Wind turbines provide clean energy, but birds often die when they fly into turbines, and the noise the machines make can disrupt bird and human alike. For those reasons, Winn and Payne say they would close their North Palermo Road facility if Beaver Ridge Wind, an affiliate of Competitive Energy Service, builds three electricity-generating wind turbines on nearby Beaver Ridge. "No one argues with the basic fact that turbines kill birds," Winn said. "The only issue is how many are killed, and whether those numbers impact species populations."
This document includes studies in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
The state’s largest wildlife conservation organization commends the commissioners of Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission for their 6-1 decision today to deny a permit for a controversial wind-power project sited in a high-mountain Western Maine area zoned for protection and home to rare wildlife. “Today we have seen LURC’s commissioners take action for which all Maine citizens can be grateful: They have upheld the laws that protect unique, spectacular areas in Maine,” said Jennifer Burns, staff attorney and advocate for Maine Audubon.
The Federal Communications Commission recently began the process of considering new rules to reduce the number of birds killed in collisions with communications towers. The best way to reduce collisions is to have fewer towers by collocating equipment on one structure. The FCC rulemaking furthers the national discussion of collocation, which can benefit more than birds.
"It's a difficult bird to study because it's distributed across a fragmented range of mountaintops which we sometimes refer to as 'sky islands.' We estimate the total population to be between 20,000 and 40,000 birds," Rimmer said. The bird's habitat faces potential threats from ski area development, communications tower construction, wind energy projects, acid rain, mercury and global warming.
My viewpoint was, and still is, that the huge towers (260 feet high), gigantic blades (add another 150 feet), blinking strobe lights, permanent removal of wind-hindering vegetation, and highly visible road and transmission infrastructures are totally inappropriate for wild, undeveloped, scenic and highly visible settings. And I said I thought that opponents should focus on those issues, as well as the small return in electricity for the massive public price paid, aesthetically and otherwise, and should perhaps stay away from the issue of bird mortality caused by the rapidly spinning blades. The jury is still out on that, I said, and conventional wisdom is that vastly more birds are killed by high-rise windows and free-running cats......Well, so much for conventional wisdom. Editor's Note This opinion piece was written in response to a letter received from Lisa Linowes that is available via the link below.