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Rare bird habitat revealed on Wolfe Island  

On September 21, 2007, Environment Canada released important new information about birds and bird habitat on Wolfe Island. The Island is located at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, across from Kingston where the lake becomes the St. Lawrence River.

During a review of the proposed Wolfe Island wind power development, Environment Canada looked at the diversity of birds on the island, their habitat, and the potential impacts of the wind turbines on the natural environment.

The results from Environment Canada are exciting. According to the department, Wolfe Island is important because…

* “Wolfe island has some of the highest quality grassland bird habitat in Ontario and is internationally known for its large concentrations of wintering raptors.”

* “It has been identified as an Important Bird Area, a science based initiative to identify, conserve and monitor a network of sites that provide essential habitat for Canada’s bird populations. Based on IBA criteria, Wolfe Island is considered “Globally Significant” as a result of congregatory species.”

* “Wolfe island is ‘Continentally” Significant’ as a result of congregatory species and waterfowl concentrations.”

* “The pasture and grasslands that now predominate, support some of the most significant grassland bird communities in North America….20% of all Bobolinks in the world are found in southern Ontario, the highest abundance anywhere in North America….the highest concentrations of Bobolinks are found on Wolfe island and the surrounding region….the highest concentrations of eastern Meadowlark in North America are also found on Wolfe Island.”

* “By some accounts, Wolfe island is the single most important zone in eastern Ontario for migrating waterfowl….it should be noted that Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper clearly describes Wolfe Island as the most important waterfowl waterfowl staging area in eastern Ontario, and it is one of the most important areas in the entire province.”

The newly-discovered importance of the Wolfe Island bird habitat and the implications of the wind power development for this rural community were the focus of a live show at the General Wolfe Hotel on Friday night. Waterkeeper taped its first-ever live presentation of our new radio show, Living At the Barricades, and musician Chris Brown performed with The Citizen’s Band.

Citizen activist Sarah McDermott, lawyer Peggy Smith, bird specialists Bill Evans and Gerry Smith contributed to the show. Through their efforts, we are learning about the importance of the region for migratory birds from Environment Canada and the Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment (WIRE). We are learning about the potential economic, social and cultural impacts that even clean energy sources can have on a community without proper planning.

Environment Canada is now echoing some of their concerns about the impacts of poorly-sited wind turbines. The agency notes that, the “Wolfe Island Wind Farm Project will be the first such facility to be located in a significant wintering raptor area in eastern North America.” The federal environmental departmnet is also asking that the environmental review report on the wind development project be amended to more correctly reflect the large footprint of the wind project.

Learn more about the environmental assessment process and some of the challenges ahead on this week’s episode of Living At the Barricades. Tune int to CFRC 101.9fm in Kingston, Ontario or online at www.cfrc.ca this Thursday, October 4 to hear the show. You can also download the show on myspace.

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper

3 October 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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