A most outstanding Columbus Day weekend in Western New York. People came from all over to see the pristine fall colors in the hills of Wyoming County. A local church served beef dinner, the local fire company had its annual chowder fundraiser and cars drove east to the Letchworth Park arts festival.
As everyone drove east, High Sheldon industrial wind facility was in most rearview mirrors, not a pristine view. But Western New Yorkers need to pay close attention to what is in their rearview mirror. Everyone needs to pay attention.
The study being done in High Sheldon Wind Farm, to date, April 15 to July 1, 2010, is conducted by Western EcoSystems Technology located in Waterbury, Vt. The study found 24 avian and bat carcasses which include one sharp-shinned hawk, two turkey vultures, an American crow, a rock-pigeon, one yellow-bellied flycatcher, one bobolink, one killdeer, a total of two hoary bats and eight silver-haired bats.
A similar study was done in Noble Bliss Windpark. It is the Avian and Bat Fatality Study. This is one study Invenergy does not want the public to hear about. The annual report for the Noble Bliss Windpark LLC, Post Construction Bird and Bat Fatality Study – 2008, prepared by Curry and Kerlinger LLC, April 2009. The total avian and bat carcasses found were 795 – 508 of which were bats, and two were raptors. One of the raptors was a sharp-shinned hawk (listed by the DEC as a Species of Concern).
Another concern is the carcass removal trials. This is used to validate data according to the established protocol. Permits will be sought that allow carcasses found during the searches to be used as trial carcasses. In addition, these will be supplemented with non-protected species such as house sparrows, European starlings, rock doves, and pen-raised game species such as hen pheasants and mallard ducks. Carcasses will be checked for a minimum period of 14 days to determine removal rates. The practice on live birds or will they be killed and used as trial carcasses?
During the 2008 project year, the Noble Bliss Windpark experienced levels of site reclamation as part of the post-construction process. The extraordinary maintenance activities, as it is referred to in the study, stated, “… we hypothesize that inactive turbines may be correlated with decrease in fatalities, we had no way of coordinating searches with inactive turbines, as maintenance work was not according to a standardized schedule. In addition, downtime occurred for differing periods of the day (and night) at individual towers. An experimental study with searches designed to coincide with tower downtime would be better suited to explore this relationship.”
This is important information to the correlation of decrease in fatalities. Does this mean Invenergy can alter the study to their advantage? They do have control over the operation of the wind turbines.
The people who have turbine leases do not care about these studies. Invenergy must complete these post-construction studies. Then the more-than-a-billion-dollar stimulus money can be claimed by the wind turbine corporation. This being known, the rest of the population in Orangeville needs to listen and do their homework. Concerns are noted by the U.S. Geological Survey. The white-nose syndrome is killing bats in the United States and now we have introduced industrial wind turbines into their environment. The U.S. Geological Survey scientists are investigating fatal bat collisions with wind turbines. Certain species of migratory bats seem particularly vulnerable to fatal encounters with wind turbines. In a podcast interview, USGS research biologist and bat specialist Dr. Paul Cryan explains what we know, and don’t know. (http://www.fort.usgs. gov/products/publications/pub_abstract.asp?PubID=22795)
The post-construction studies are too late for the bat and avian population. We need to address pre-construction studies. Wind farm advocates say cats kill more birds than wind farms. Does that mean we should introduce bird-killing machines into our countryside? Isn’t that like saying natural radon causes more cancer than PCBs, so we should allow PCBs to be discharged into our waterways?
The state Department of Environmental Conservation states “Endangered Species Mission: To perpetuate and restore native animal life within New York State for the use and benefit of current and future generations, based upon sound scientific practices and in consideration of social values, so as not to foreclose these opportunities to future generations.” Will future generations be forced to deal with the greed of today?
Lynn Lomanto lives in Orangeville.
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