Conservationists should urge their state legislators to oppose Sen. John Wozniak’s SB 1425. This bill would lease portions of Gallitzin State Forest for industrial wind plant development.
The environmental benefits of wind energy development, in the mid-Atlantic area in general and on Pennsylvania state lands in particular, are small, relative to the negative consequences, which include habitat fragmentation and mortality to birds and bats.
The environmental impacts of wind energy are considerable. Mortality to birds and bats has been of particular concern.
Bat mortality from wind turbines has been particularly high.
With wind energy development expanding on private lands in Pennsylvania, the forested ridge tops of state-owned lands will become even more critical for birds, bats and other species that utilize these habitats.
Another important, and often overlooked, impact of wind development is habitat fragmentation and its associated effects. These effects include reduced habitat area, habitat isolation and loss of species from an area, disruption of dispersal, increased edge effects and loss of core habitat and facilitation of invasive species.
Because natural resource agency lands are among the last remaining large blocks of unfragmented land in Pennsylvania, these lands are particularly in need of protection.
The environmental benefits of wind energy development on natural resource agency lands in Pennsylvania are negligible compared to the environmental consequences. These lands should remain closed to wind energy development.
Conservationists should urge their state legislators to oppose SB 1425.
Dr. Stan Kotala
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