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Thruway Authority doesn’t ask for opinion

The Post-Journal’s Sept. 16 story on ”Wind Turbines Coming to Local Stretch of the Thruway” was a shocker to many folks in Chautauqua County and Western New York. Since the spring of 2002, Ripley Hawk Watch (RHW) members and the Chautauqua County Citizens for Responsible Wind Power (CCCRWP) have opposed putting wind turbines in the migration flyway. Since the last Ice Age, birds, bats, butterflies and bugs have flown in this well-known migration flyway going northward in the spring and southward in the fall. Now the Thruway Authority (TA) plans to put four wind turbines in Chautauqua County and one in Erie County. Four turbines will be 202 feet from the blade tip at apex to the ground. The fifth turbine height is unknown as is the exact cost. The TA is budgeting $4.8 million but construction costs are not known now.

When asked about possible opposition the spokesperson said simply ”that they have a plan and intend to begin moving forward.” That’s like giving us the finger – in the eye. No one called us to get our views and input.

Since 1990 I’ve helped in the spring migration, counting thousands of raptors. But the greatest number of birds are the nocturnal flyers using this migration flyway. Experts say that ”15 to 40 million birds use this flyway.” Birds use the wooded areas to rest and eat during spring and fall migration. The New York DEC and the United States Fish and Wildlife Services have expressed deep concerns about putting wind turbines in the migration flyway along and south of the Lake Erie shoreline.

Will the TA have Rada Bird Studies done to cover these sites? Will they secure permits to killing Golden and Bald Eagles? Have the people of Western New York lost their rights to present their views? In the past, the NYDEC and the USFWS asked us to submit our views to help them setting proper guidelines on wind turbine placement, concerning birds, bats, butterflies and bugs. At our own expense we went to Albany to meet with the NYDEC and USFWS officials on the Wind Energy proposals coming into Chautauqua County and New York State. It’s sad that the TA in Albany never heard of the Ripley Hawk Watch and the Concerned Citizens group. We don’t consider it a win-win; to us it’s more like a kill-kill and injure our flying wildlife. Really very sad.

Keep them flying and singing!

Len DeFrancisco