Alameda County supervisors approved a new three-month, bird-monitoring contract Tuesday to study the impacts of the Altamont Pass wind turbines on scores of birds, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and other protected species.
Supervisors approved the $450,000 contract with environmental consulting firm Jones & Stokes by a 3-2 vote, with Keith Carson and Gail Steele opposed. The new deal runs from July 1 to Oct. 14.
In spring 2007, the board approved a $1.4 million, one-year contract with three groups – UC Santa Cruz, WEST Inc. and Jones & Stokes – to perform bird monitoring. At that time, supervisors were concerned the cost of the study has spiraled out of control.
In 2006, supervisors rejected a $3 million, three-year plan to monitor bird deaths in the Altamont Pass.
According to a study released in 2004 by the California Energy Commission, an estimated 1,700 to 4,700 birds die each year by flying into whirling turbine blades or by being electrocuted by transmission lines that thread through the 50,000-acre Altamont Wind Resource Area.
The fatalities involve as many as 116 golden eagles, 300 red-tailed hawks, 333 American kestrels and 380 burrowing owls, the study found.
By Chris Metinki
22 July 2008
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