November 3, 2010
New York

Environmentalists speak to Hammond committee

By Matt McAllister, The Journal, 3 November 2010

HAMMOND – Placing an industrial wind project between Black Lake and the St. Lawrence River will be problematic for the area’s bird and bat populations, according to William R. Evans, an Ithaca-based ornothologist and director of the non-profit, Old Bird Inc.

Mr. Evans outlined his views Monday to the Hammond Wind Committee via conference call, and was joined at the meeting by Jennifer J. Caddick, executive director of Save the River, a Clayton-based not-for-profit. Save the River wants a three-year moratorium on all industrial wind development along the St. Lawrence River.

Calling the Canadian Wolfe Island wind project the “worst sited build-out” he has ever seen as far as its effects on migratory birds based on the results from the project’s July-December 2009 bird and bat fatality study, Mr. Evans stressed the importance of siting wind turbines to minimize their impacts on native species.

He said the impetus of his studies, which include being a paid consultant to the wind power industry on several projects and carrying out pre- and postconstruction wildlife monitoring studies at several others, is to make sure that everyone is aware of the impacts that wind turbines have on nature.

“To strengthen the paper trail of objection to what is going on,” he told the committee.

Mr. Evans was clear about his feelings about industrial wind companies, several times questioning the ethics of developers and pointing to the fact that dollar signs drive development.

“I feel they keep barging in to sensitive areas and creating problems, and for the most part, state agencies are helpless” to stop them or to get involved at the local level, he said.

While each specific project is unique and depends on the environment it is constructed in, according to Mr. Evans, a large body of water, like the St. Lawrence River, is a prime location for flight patterns of migratory birds. Additionally, with Hammond’s project proposed to fall between the St. Lawrence and Black Lake, Mr. Evans anticipates even more bird fatalities, because birds commonly transit between the two waterways.

Mrs. Caddick told the committee that her group has been following the issues along the St. Lawrence River valley and that the level of migratory bird deaths at Wolfe Island has Save the River even more concerned.

“We feel much can be learned about the ecological impacts of Wolfe Island and applied to future projects,” she said.

Committee tri-chair Ronald R. Papke asked Iberdrola Renewables Inc. representatives at the meeting if results of their migratory bird and bat studies could be shared with the committee and was told these studies would be made available after the Department of Conservation had reviewed them.

The Hammond Wind Committee meets next on Nov. 15.

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