Article

Agency aims to protect eagles from wind farms

Existing wind farms are being reviewed and pending projects are under scrutiny for their potential bird impacts, with four seeing particular attention. The issue is the latest sign of increasing tension between wind development and rural concerns in Oregon.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is adopting new standards aimed at protecting bats and birds from wind turbines. In Oregon, existing wind farms are being reviewed and pending projects are under scrutiny for their potential bird impacts, with four seeing particular attention.

The issue is the latest sign of increasing tension between wind development and rural concerns in Oregon. A recent citizen vote against Horizon Wind Energy's proposed Antelope Ridge wind farm in Union County indicate future wind projects will face stiffer scrutiny in the state, particularly as development is proposed into higher elevations and increasingly sensitive habitat.

Oregon is not the only state affected by advancing federal efforts to protect birds and bats, however. In territory spanning from the Pacific Coast to the Dakotas, south to Arizona and north into Canada, surveys show Golden Eagles are in decline, accounting for one reason Fish and Wildlife Service developed permits for "takes" or killing of the birds in 2009. The siting standards now being developed for wind farms are aimed at charting a path forward for wind developers who want greater guidance on how to move... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is adopting new standards aimed at protecting bats and birds from wind turbines. In Oregon, existing wind farms are being reviewed and pending projects are under scrutiny for their potential bird impacts, with four seeing particular attention.

The issue is the latest sign of increasing tension between wind development and rural concerns in Oregon. A recent citizen vote against Horizon Wind Energy's proposed Antelope Ridge wind farm in Union County indicate future wind projects will face stiffer scrutiny in the state, particularly as development is proposed into higher elevations and increasingly sensitive habitat.

Oregon is not the only state affected by advancing federal efforts to protect birds and bats, however. In territory spanning from the Pacific Coast to the Dakotas, south to Arizona and north into Canada, surveys show Golden Eagles are in decline, accounting for one reason Fish and Wildlife Service developed permits for "takes" or killing of the birds in 2009. The siting standards now being developed for wind farms are aimed at charting a path forward for wind developers who want greater guidance on how to move ahead with projects. Though the standards are not laws, developers could face criminal penalties if birds and bats are killed by projects that failed to abide them.

"This truly is a national issue of national significance with multiple Fish and Wildlife offices trying to be consistent and do the same thing," said Doug Young, energy program manager at the Portland office of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

He said the standards will recommend wind development comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which prohibit the killing of birds and possession or transport of migratory birds or their nests and eggs.

Since September, Fish and Wildlife officers in Bend and Portland have closely examined four proposed wind projects, drafting letters reflecting their aim to prevent bird killings.

"We provided both strong recommendations for full avoidance (of bird deaths)... but we also provided mechanisms for them to move forward," said Young.

The affected projects include the Antelope Ridge wind farm near Baker City, Columbia Energy Partners' North Steens transmission line at its Echanis Wind Power Project in Harney County, Pacific Wind Power's West Butte project near Prineville, and LotusWorks' Summit Ridge project in Deschutes County.

In its recommendations, Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Service office demonstrates the scope of the wind-siting standards now taking shape, at least in this state.

Wind developers that site turbines closer than six miles from the nests of protected birds will be responsible for monitoring the species and for designing transmission lines and roads to avoid electrocution, collision and disruption. Construction and operation must also be scheduled around bird migration and reproduction. The efforts could be intensified within four miles of nests, and again within two miles, based on science that shows bird use of the areas is more frequent. Development within these golden eagle use areas may also call for mitigation work where the risk of take is higher.

Young said he is hopeful the siting standards will be formally available by the end of the year or in early 2011.

Their release and the impacts of the new standards on Oregon wind projects are being closely tracked by industry and environmental groups, including the Audubon Society of Portland, Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife and the Oregon Natural Desert Association.


Source: http://www.sustainablebusin...

NOV 13 2010
http://wind3.herokuapp.com/posts/28848-agency-aims-to-protect-eagles-from-wind-farms
back to top