From Homebase in Oak Harbor, a very tired Kimberly Writes:
Today, Black Swamp Bird Observatory hosted a meeting in Port Clinton, Ohio, to discuss the far reaching implications of wind turbines in migratory bird stopover habitat. We approached the issue from several angles, with experts speaking on ecotourism and the preservation of our last remaining scenic landscapes, the bird and bat mortality issue, and even the efficiency and economics of these machines. We gave a large gathering of community leaders--as well as representatives from the wind energy industry who were in attendance--a great deal to consider. Certainly no one there today can continue to claim ignorance about the fact that wind turbines in this region will share the air column with millions of migratory birds, including the critically endangered Kirtland's Warbler, the state endangered Sandhill Crane, and one of the largest concentrations of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states.
Today, we took the first step in working toward some reasonable solution to the need for renewable energy and the need to be responsible stewards for migratory birds, ecotourism, and the scenic vistas that we must cling to so fiercely if they are to be preserved for future generations. We have learned that nothing is sacred in our quest to generate more and more and more electricity. Nothing is sacred -- unless we kick and scream that it is.
An example of some of the information brought out today: Thanks to one of our experts, Bill Evans, the audience learned that the plan to target schools in the Lake Erie Marsh Region as places for wind turbines (many deep within the area deemed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to be the highest area of concern for birds and bats) has some serious flaws. School yards are frequently lighted throughout the night for safety purposes. The combination of large banks of lights -- that have been proven to attract nocturnal migrants -- coupled with 300 foot structures with spinning blades is a potentially lethal combination.
Many organizations and agencies were represented at today's meeting, including: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Ohio State Parks, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, the American Birding Association, two of the three Ottawa County Commissioners, the Mayor of Port Clinton, SureEnergy, Erie and Ottawa County departments of tourism, Audubon chapters, Ottawa County Community Improvement Corp., and local business owners. We also invited the press, and reporters from The Beacon (Ottawa County) and The Metropress (Lucas County) were there covering the discussion.
Here are the seven items we presented as desired outcomes from today’s meeting. These points resulted in some great dialogue and left us with at least a glimmer of hope that we can continue to work together to ensure the integrity of the quality habitat (for birds and humans) in this region.
• Support for our three-year moratorium on additional wind turbines within three miles of the Lake Erie shore in Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Erie Counties until research on nocturnal migrants (including radar studies) can be completed
• Expansion of the current voluntary wildlife review process for industrial turbines to include midsized turbines 100 feet or more in height and/or 10 Kilowatt or greater
• Explore the potential for consortia of local schools to install turbines in areas outside the zone of highest concern, sharing the energy benefits
• Explore the potential for other sources of renewable energy within the zone of highest concern
• Explore the potential of bringing economic growth to the area by encouraging wind turbine manufacturing plants to locate here
• Permanent ban on any wind turbines 300 feet or higher within the zones of highest concern as identified by Ohio Department of Natural Resources
• Development of a local level Western Basin Wind Working Group
Being a part of the birding and conservation community means that you are frequently blessed by the outpouring of support from your fellow warriors. Today, our team at Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Ohio Ornithological Society, and Greater Mohican Audubon Society, was bestowed great gifts of knowledge and expertise from none other than:
Ted Eubanks (http://www.fermatainc.com/)
Bill Evans (http://www.oldbird.org/) and (http://www.towerkill.com/)
Keith Lott (Ohio Division of Wildlife)
Dan Boone (http://www.VAwind.org/).
---Talk about the bird conservation dream team!
Also part of today’s dream team were Kenn Kaufman, Cheryl Harner, Jen Sauter, Mark Shieldcastle, Julie Shieldcastle, Ken Keffer, Paul Baicich, Dana Bollin, and Guy Denny. Larry Fletcher and the staff at the Ottawa County Visitors’ Bureau hosted today’s meeting and we offer them our gratitude for their hospitality.
I’d also like to mention that our online petition is having an impact. I know most of you have signed it, but if you haven’t please do, and consider encouraging others to as well.
You can also visit http://www.bsbobird.org/wind_energy.htm for more information.
We’ll keep you posted as we continue to work toward a solution.