Woodward, Okla. – Area residents were able to visit Thursday evening with representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and various wind energy companies concerning the environmental impact from construction of wind farms.
Together with the Wildlife Service, representatives from 19 wind companies involved with construction across 9 states, including Oklahoma, are holding various public meetings as a way to gain some insight, to mitigate risk, and to help preserve endangered species as more wind farms are constructed. The Fish and Wildlife Service is concerned about the impact of the growing wind energy industry on at-risk and endangered bird species across the 9-state region.
Jenni Dean with Trade Wind Energy, one of 19 wind energy companies involved with the project, said the main goal of the meetings is to gather public input.
Comments collected during Thursday’s meeting, which was held at the Pioneer Room in Woodward, focused on the impact of wind farm construction on lesser prairie chickens and the impact it will have on property owners involved.
Dale Cook, a resident of Beaver County, believes a property owner should be allowed to have a wind turbine on his land if he wants one.
However, he thinks agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service or other government groups can sometimes get in the way.
“Say the Fish and Wildlife Service said my land can’t be used for wind energy farms because I have lesser prairie chicken on my property,” he said. “Or say I live near an Air Force base and the wind energy companies went and talked to the Air Force and the Air Force said they don’t want wind energy companies building on my property because the base has low flying aircrafts over my property.”
Cook said that is why he attended Thursday’s meeting, to help ensure that landowners’ voices like his get heard along with everyone else.
“If I’m being set aside, I want input on that,” he said.
Ryan and Rachael Jett of rural Beaver County also voiced concern at the meeting about landowner rights.
However, unlike Cook, the Jetts are concerned about landowners being able to keep turbines away from their property if they want as they seek to protect lesser prairie chickens that live there.
“Most of the people here are concerned about the lesser prairie chicken. We have prairie chickens in the center of our land,” Rachael Jett said. “Our main concern is the way we use our land and the control we have over our land.”
The Jetts and Cook were just a few of the 39 people who visited the Pioneer Room Thursday to learn and share thoughts about the environmental impacts of wind energy development.
Dean said it was a great turnout.
In addition to comments or concerns discussed between attendees and Wildlife Service or wind energy representatives at the meeting, written comments were also collected.
However, when The News spoke with Dean on Friday, she had not yet had a chance to review those written submissions.
For those who were unable to attend Thursday’s meeting, written comments can still be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until Oct. 12, 2011.
Comments may be sent by e-mail sent to WindEnergyHCPComments@fws.gov; by faxing Laila Lienesch at (505) 248-6922; or by mail sent to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/attn. Laila Lienesch/ P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103-1306.
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