Dear National Wind Watch,
I have lived on Monhegan island in Maine for 30 years. Monhegan Island is a small island (1 mi × 3/4 mi) that is located 13 miles off of the coast of Maine, USA, and is a stop-off for many species of birds traveling the Eastern/Atlantic Migratory Flyway route north in the spring and south in the fall along the Eastern coast. In many cases the island is the first piece of land that birds see after flying north from Mexico and southern states over large expanses of water in the spring; they arrive on the island in huge flocks in late May to rest and eat for several days before continuing their migration journey north to Maine and Canada to breed. They come back to the island in the fall to eat as much as they can before heading south back over the water. Hundreds of thousands of birds migrate through Monhegan seasonally, and people come from all over the world to witness it annually.
I am writing today as a concerned citizen, and as a fellow bird-lover/bird-watcher, to make you aware of an impending situation/project that I fear could have catastrophic implications for all bird populations that use the Atlantic Flyway and migrate up the Eastern seaboard of the US. There are many people who are still unaware that the government intends to install wind-turbines in the waters only 2-1/2 miles off of Lobster Cove, Monhegan. The federal group has changed an original plan from being a “small test site” to the current plan of putting two of the ‘world’s largest’ wind turbines in the waters right off the island’s shore, with a plan to eventually add 18 more of them in future years. It would undoubtedly have a tragic impact on the migrating birds traveling the Atlantic Flyway, and would kill mass numbers of them as they instinctively fly toward the island to land in the spring/fall. Additionally, the numbers of dead birds would not be ‘countable’ as the dead birds would be quickly washed away by the sea. (The turbines will be two times the height of the Statue of Liberty.)
Monhegan residents have hired a lawyer and are getting many donations to attempt to have this huge project moved to a new, more appropriate location, but we are fighting an uphill battle against a huge conglomerate with millions of dollars that have no vested interest in Maine/Monhegan or its valuable resources. In fact, the power the turbines will be generating will be going directly out of state and the turbines will be built and bought from outside the USA.
As sad as I am for this island community, too small in population (only 60 residents) to stand up to the Goliath that is upon us, and the changes it will mean for those who live here. I am frightened at the potential this project and those huge turbines would have to harm the birds that use the Eastern/Atlantic Migratory route, and the capacity for the machines to wipe out extremely large flocks of very tired, very hungry, and instinctually-driven birds who travel through the area during migration, and that land on this particular island annually in such great numbers because of its geographic location in the ocean.
I am reaching out to National Wind Watch because the potential impact of this project is more far reaching than it may appear. The birds that fly up the Eastern seaboard and land on Monhegan are species that many times are never seen in Maine at all – they are simply on their way to their seasonal residences and as I mentioned, this is the first/last piece of land they see after/before flying such long distances over water. Many Audubon groups and photographers from all over the nation come to witness the spring and fall migrations here, and Monhegan is well-known in many Bird Watching circles as one of the best locations in the world to see birds of so many species and in such large numbers in such a small area. They are easily photographed especially during the spring migration, as the birds are so tired when they arrive here and it’s easy to get close to them.
The wind-turbine project is planned to begin soon, details have been released slowly to avoid opposition as the plans for the project grew. I feel that all Audubon and Nature groups, Aviaries, Conservation groups both national and international, and other concerned birders need to be informed of what is happening here, and the potential impact it will have on so many species of birds that come through this area annually. This project will impact bird populations from Mexico to Canada if allowed to go up in this area so close to Monhegan Island and this migratory bird stop-off. I am hoping there may be a way to protect them before that happens.
Any help, whether it be letters written to political representatives, or maybe lawyers for bird groups or chapters, that could bring more light and more attention to this frightening prospect would be more than appreciated, as Monhegan Island is located right smack-dab in the center of the Eastern/Atlantic Migratory Flyway, a very unique geographically isolated island, where so many birds visit annually. There are other locations where this project would better be suited for experimentation with sea-worthy wind turbines. Wind is obviously a resource we need to tap into, but there are many other locations where these tests for floating turbines can be used that would not so negatively impact millions of birds that are known to migrate through this island every year. Our hope is that through education and advocacy, they will move the turbine project further away from the Atlantic Migratory Flyway and this important migratory island.
For more information about the specifics of the turbine project and what islanders are doing to try to get the project moved to another location, please visit this link: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectMonhegan – anyone on the committee would be more than happy to talk with you.
Thank you for your consideration,