Each spring and autumn, Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area comes alive with songbirds and raptors. Located on a major migration route on the eastern tip of Prince Edward County, this 560-hectare parcel of wilderness was established in 1978 to protect migratory bird habitat. The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory operates a migration monitoring station within the NWA. It is one of 25 across the country that track three to five billion birds as they leave the boreal forest every fall on their way south to their non-breeding territories, and return to Canada the following spring.
These migration monitoring stations are the only real way to monitor these species’ populations. Prince Edward Point NWA is one of 51 of Canada’s best wildlife habitats…
Gilead Power, a privately owned renewable energy company, is proposing a wind farm of up to 13, 90-metre high turbines in Ostrander Point Crown Land block, directly west of the National Wildlife Area and in the heart of the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area. This project could destroy a significant amount of habitat within the Crown Land block based on the proponent’s project description. Most significantly from the perspective of birds, it could disrupt migration patterns and create a permanent major physical threat to the tens of thousands of birds that migrate along the shoreline toward or away from the NWA. Remember that this NWA was created because of its significance for migratory birds.
Ironically this area is owned by the province and managed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Ultimately it will be their decision if turbines are installed there and their responsibility to justify such a decision. However, if this project is allowed to go ahead it will mean that no place is sacred – no place too sensitive for these structures. Ostrander Point is public land, environmental land in the heart of a globally significant important bird area.
Industrial wind farms are not the only threat to the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area. It has been 23 years since a management plan was written for this area. Implementation of the plan has stalled and revision is required. Many sections within the NWA are over-grown with exotic species, particularly Dog Strangling Vine, an aggressive alien vine that chokes out all competition. The NWA has virtually no resources to address these perennial and worsening issues.
Environment Canada is responsible for these protected areas. Yet the department lacks even basic funding to properly manage, let alone expand them or establish new ones. Also lacking is the political will of both the federal government and particularly the provincial government to say no to wind turbines where they clearly should not be allowed.
With a federal election looming in the not-so-distant future, now is the time to ask politicians and the candidates the hard questions about this important part of Canada’s natural heritage. Is the provincial government willing to protect the integrity of migratory bird habitat and say no to the wind farm at Ostrander Point? Are our leaders in Ottawa ready to ante-up the required resources to get our national wildlife areas off life-support? Demand answers!
Ted Cheskey, Conservation Ecologist
26 June 2008
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