January 7, 2005

Study finds wind turbines in path of bird migration

The East Haven (Vermont) wind-energy project is initially targeting East Mountain, which is a couple peaks north of Kirby Mountain, with 4 turbines as a "demonstration" project. Pretending that they're not thinking "yet" about the complete plan for 50 turbines spread over two ridges and looming over state-protected wilderness (the "Champion" lands), the developers are currently seeking Public Service Board approval. Insisting as well that East Mountain is not in a significant flyway, even though it borders the Victory Bog, which is nationally cherished by birdwatchers, or, if it is, that the birds would fly well above the turbines, they have refused to do any actual research. The PSB has allowed time for the primary opposition, the Kingdom Commons Group, to pursue a study but also refused to fund it. KCG has managed to start such a study, of wildlife on the ground as well as birds. (When the research began, the project's president, Mathew Rubin, opened the property to ATVs, obviously hoping to scare away the [non-human] animals.)

As reported in the radio story linked to in the title of this post, the first results of the bird survey, done by the state Agency of Natural Resources, show that there were over a half million flights over the mountain last October, 67% of them below 400 feet, i.e., where turbine blades would be.

And lest those 335,000 threatened birds be dismissed as "common," their senseless death not threatening the survival of their species (and thus somehow "OK"), I would like to report a young peregrine falcon, an endangered species, seen sitting in a white ash near our house today. Among smaller birds who find shelter and food in these mountains, the elusive Bicknell's thrush is a threatened species.