OAK HARBOR – The Black Swamp Bird Observatory has been hosting meetings to discuss the costs and benefits of wind turbines.
The last meeting was Nov. 29 at the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau Welcome Center in Port Clinton. the observatory arranged for several of the country’s leading experts on the subject to provide their insight.
Bill Evans, president of www.oldBird.org and developer of www.towerKill.com, which contains information on avian fatalities at communications towers, pointed out that wind turbines that are lighted at night can actually attract birds, causing them to be killed in much higher numbers.
Evans cautioned against installing wind turbines on school yards, which often are more lighted than most other public areas for security reasons and sporting events.
Ted Eubanks is the founder and CEO of Fermata Inc. (www.fermatainc.com), a nature-based tourism consulting firm in Galveston, Texas. Eubanks helped to create the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail National Scenic Byway. Eubanks cautioned against damaging the remaining scenic vistas of Ohio’s Lake Erie coast and directed participants to studies showing that tourists are far less likely to visit areas that have wind turbines.
Dan Boone, a professional ecologist and natural resources policy analyst, discussed lack of public awareness of the facts involving how the country consumes and generates electricity and how effective and efficient wind energy actually is.
“Last year BSBO conducted an independent birding economic impact study during the Biggest Week in American Birding, a festival that, based on a count by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, helped attract more than 50,000 birders to Ottawa, Lucas, Erie, and Sandusky counties,” said Kimberly Kaufman, Black Swamp Bird Observatory executive director.
“Our study data suggest that $20 million was spent in this area during the months of April and May, and, in addition to concerns about large-scale mortality of birds and bats, the potential loss of significant birding-based tourism dollars must be considered as well.”
The Black Swamp Bird Observatory is calling for a three-year moratorium on any additional wind turbines within three miles of the Lake Erie shore in Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky and Erie counties until scientific research studies on nocturnal migrants (including radar studies) can be completed.
The observatory also presented suggestions for compromise, including:
# Expansion of the current wildlife review for industrial-scale wind turbines to include mid-sized turbines 100 feet or more in height in the areas of highest concern for birds and bats.
# Exploring the potential for local schools to install turbines in areas outside the zone of highest concern, sharing the energy benefits.
# Exploring the potential for other sources of renewable energy.
# Exploring the potential of bringing economic growth to the area by encouraging wind turbine manufacturing plants to locate here.
# A permanent ban on any wind turbines 300 feet or higher within the zones of highest concern as identified by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
# Development of a local-level western basin wind working group.
More information and an online petition can be found at the observatory’s website, www.bsbobird.org.
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